My version of the Pegan diet is a high raw, mainly vegetarian, Paleo-pescetarian-ish diet.
You can eat
Veggies, fruits, soaked raw nuts & seeds, pastured eggs, low-mercury wild seafood, raw honey, bone broth.
As long as your health is rather stable, you can start with the above, and then, after the first month on the diet, you can slowly add:
- Fermented-only, full-fat dairy: home-made kefir (store-bought is not nearly as potent), real yogurt, unprocessed cheese, fermented crème fraîche. Avoid the coconut “beverage milks” (canned coconut milk for cooking is ok), or store-bought almond milk (processed, many additives). Kefir is your new milk. You might want to forgo dairy completely if very intolerant, or switch to sheep/goat dairy only, since these contain a gentler casein.
- Legumes (except for soy and peanuts) 2-4 a week, preferably pre-soaked for 24 hours before cooking. If using from a can, drain, rinse and drain again before cooking. Soy is only allowed in the form of tamari gluten-free soy sauce, gluten-free miso paste, and natto. All other uses of soy are not allowed (e.g. tofu, edamame etc).
- White unprocessed rice, or sprouted or bloomed brown/wild rice. Use up to 1-2 times a week only.
– My Mediterranean-inspired Peganism is generally lower fat than regular Paleo. You can’t have lots of carbs and lots of fat and still be healthy. One of the two must give. People with North ancestry are doing better with high-fat, while people from the South, are usually doing better with less fat and more carbs. So this diet is both geographically- and seasonally-dependent. Depending where you live, what your ancestry is, and what the season is, you eat accordingly. Listen to your body.
– This is a high-raw diet: 50%-75% raw. Prefer a smoothie or a fruit/veggie platter for breakfast, a big salad for lunch, and have a cooked, more starchy dinner at night. Eat a lot of leafy veggies.
– Limit smoothies to once a day or less: blended foods have acellular carbs (cells are destroyed during the blending), which are detrimental to health over time. Vegetable juices are ok if you need emergency nutrition for your frail body (a very good trick to get lots of vitamins in your body, fast). Only include 1 fruit in them (it’s supposed to be mostly veggies). Avoid Intermediate Fasting in the first few months of the lifestyle too (you must be healthy first to do that).
– Eat low-mercury, high-DHA seafood three times a week, e.g. canned sardines, wild salmon. All fish should be wild, but some shellfish can be also be farmed. During the week, you can also have soups that contain fish bone broth (especially one made out of wild salmon heads). I personally avoid tuna as much as I can (due to the cruel way it’s killed, and its high mercury), other high-mercury fish, and octopus (due to its intelligence). I eat the rest… Seafood is supposed to be the majority of animal protein in this diet.
– The official Peganism allows small amounts of meat. Prefer to eat pastured liver & heart over muscle meat, and make bone broth. Not only offal is the most nutritious part, but animals aren’t generally killed for it, which makes it ethically the best choice. I especially suggest eating more offal & gelatinous bone broth in the first month of the diet, which is the healing phase of the diet. Later on, you can limit your intake to as low as once a week. But even if you decide to eat more meat, that’s ok too. Just make sure it’s good quality (e.g. pastured or wild).
– If you decide to not eat land animals, pay close attention to oysters, the second most nutritious food on Earth, after liver. Canned oysters will give you lots of zinc. Still, you will have trouble getting enough CoQ10, PQQ or Retinol A without liver & heart (fish other than eel don’t have much Retinol A, and plants have none).
– Insects and larvae are allowed, and are in fact, encouraged. In comparison, other animals of our great ape family, that are mainly vegan, also eat insects & eggs to ensure enough B12 (up to 7% of their diet, depending on the species). Regardless, all apes get enough B12 via the worms that naturally live inside wild fruits. Unfortunately, super-market fruit is sanitized via pesticides, so it’s completely devoid of B12. This is why it’s important to not be 100% vegan (not because a true vegan diet is not sustainable, but because modern, sanitized veggies are not proper vegan food).
– Cold-pressed avocado, olive, coconut oils, animal fats, and grass-fed butter/ghee are the only fats allowed. All the other seed-based oils create huge inflammation due to their high omega-6 content, avoid them.
– Prefer your eggs to be pastured. All commercial eggs, including organic & free range ones, contain soy protein. Most people who think they’re allergic to eggs, are often just allergic to soy as found in these eggs.
– White potatoes up to twice a week, preferably eaten cold (most beneficial for the gut that way). Always remove the skin of white potatoes before eating (that’s where the toxins lie). Prefer purple yams in general.
– Desserts must only be raw, using raw, local honey. No major heating should take place, or the honey becomes plain sugar if heated. Don’t have more than one dessert a week.
– Use natural celtic salt in your foods, but often prefer to just use lemon instead. Avoid Himalayan salt, due to its natural high content of fluoride.
– Go freely for fermented foods, e.g. kimchi, sauerkraut.
– Eat sea vegetables at least once a week, maybe more. They’re a must! Make sure they don’t contain soy sauce (due to wheat in the sauce).
– Your nuts & seeds must be raw, and soaked (soaking time varies per nut/seed). Don’t go crazy on nuts, as they’re extremely high in omega-6, and they’re full of anti-nutrients (especially if not soaked). Peanuts are not allowed at all (they’re legumes, not nuts).
– If you’re allergic to dairy, you can make water kefir instead. Use real, brown sugar in that case: that sugar is broken down by the kefir bacteria, so you’re not consuming it yourself. Do not use honey on water kefir (they cancel each other out since honey is anti-bacterial).
– The most potent and beneficial spices are ginger and turmeric. Raw garlic and raw onion are equally great too (benefits are gone when heated).
– Vitamins (unfortunately, farmed soil is depleted, so some supplementation is required these days): K2-Mk4 twice a week, CoQ10 Ubiquinol twice a week, Magnesium thrice a week before sleep, Methyl-based B-complex once a week with meals, and D3 5000 IU twice a week in the mornings or with meals. Make sure their ingredients don’t include common allergens. I would also highly suggest you get your genetics via 23andme, and then run its raw data via GeneticGenie. That information would tell you if you need the methly-based versions of B vitamins, or not. In my case, due to my gene mutations, I can’t tolerate methyl-B12, I must have hydroxy-B12. Finally, this chart could tell you if you need a more fat-based diet to lose weight, or a carb-based one.
– Drink a lot of fluoride-free water. As bad as bottled water is for the environment, unfortunately, tap water is worse, even if filtered. Only reversed osmosis systems can remove fluoride and other pollutants. Use a fluoride-free toothpaste.
– Eliminate toxins from your environment. Use gentler household chemicals, and especially pay attention of what you put on your face and body. I personally use the 100% Pure gluten-free cosmetics line.
– Awake early, with the first sun, and exercise outdoors. 6 to 9 AM the sun is not harmful, while it provides us with the right UVB and D3, which is very important for health. Walk barefoot on grass almost daily. Practice Cold Thermogenesis in the beginning of a shower.
– And finally: 8-9 hours of sleep every day! In the last 1-2 hours of your day, inside the house use blue-blocking glasses. Sleep early, and a lot! That’s a big one!
You can’t eat
- You must be 100% gluten-free, and also grain-free, and pseudograin-free (except for the optional rice dish once a week). This means no wheat, barley, rye, oats, corn, sorghum, teff, millet, spelt etc. If you’re overly sensitive, even minute amounts of gluten can make you sick. As for whole grains, these are even worse, since they contain a much larger amount of anti-nutrients.
- No pseudograins also means: no quinoa, amaranth or buckwheat etc either. Especially the red quinoa which induces gluten-like symptoms, even if it doesn’t contain gluten (cross-reactivity).
- Flax and chia seeds in moderation. Flax has super-high estrogen levels, and chia is known to induce diarrhea if eaten in large quantities.
- No flours of any kind (not even gluten-free flours). Some almond flour or psyllium husk may be used here and there, but not as a main ingredient, and definitely not to bake cookies… These “Paleo” baked goods, aren’t really Paleo.
- No industrial vegetable seed oils, particularly not margarine.
- No processed food of any kind.
- No yucca/cassava/tapioca root or flour (toxic). Arrowroot ok in very small quantities.
- No sodas, and no commercial juices.
- No soy, except gluten-free organic tamari soy sauce, GF miso (not the one containing barley), and natto (I dare you to try it).
- No bean/potato/rice vermicelli threads. They’re void of nutrition, full of starch, and without any fiber. Rice paper only on occasion if desired (prefer collard greens for wrappers).
- No caffeine (especially instant coffee), but herbal tea, like chamomile or Greek mountain tea are recommended.
- No sugar or artificial sweeteners. Only raw, local honey is allowed occasionally which has medicinal properties. Things like maple syrup, and coconut sugar, are just sugar. Agave is super-high in fructose, also avoid. Stevia etc. are very problematic too.
- No alcohol, except a few times a year, e.g. some cider or wine. No beer, ever.
- Put that cellphone down.
Sample Pegan Weekly Plan
Go for a smoothie or a platter for breakfast (both veggies and fruits in it), big raw salads for lunch with some sauce. Dinners can feature salads, cheese, fruits etc, but the main cooked entree could contain:
Tuesday: fish, veggies
Wednesday: tubers, 2 boiled eggs
Thursday: shellfish, veggies
Saturday: rice, veggies
Sunday lunch: land meat (or fish), tubers
Sunday dinner: veggies, raw dessert
What if I’m too sick?
I’m not a doctor, but an idea would be to start with a combination of the Paleo AIP + Fodmaps diets. During that time, you must also eat some offal, vegetable juices, and daily bone broth to heal your gut. A lot more high-DHA seafood must be consumed during that time too. Do not practice Intermediate Fasting during the early times of this diet (a few months in, you could though, if you wish). So, you start with that combination diet for 1-2 months, and then you re-introduce foods back slowly, using this guide. After the re-introduction phase, a few months later, you can then start following the Pegan diet. Regardless, in your condition, you’d always need to take extra care with blue light, sleep and circadian rhythms, have enough morning sun exposure, enough barefoot walks (not necessarily too aggressive exercise like HIIT or strength), and avoid being too close to cellphones and wifi. Food alone will NOT fix your problems, that would only be 50% of the work. The rest, is lifestyle.