Analysis: Putting the ‘Pegan’ Diet Craze Under the Microscope

In recent years, many diets have become popular for anticipated benefits and attractive trade-offs, as people try to balance proper nutrition with habits that align with their lifestyle values.

In today’s market, methods of food production have become an increasingly important component for many individuals interested in adopting lifestyle diets.

And, in 2022, the pegan diet has enjoyed an uptick in popularity due to claims that it is both health-promoting and ethical for the planet.


Created by functional medicine specialist Dr. Mark Hyman with the concept of ‘food as medicine’ in mind, the pegan diet is a hybrid diet that combines aspects of the paleo diet with veganism. Followers of the pegan diet eat 75% plant-derived foods like fruits, veggies, beans, nuts, and seeds, and 25% sustainable animal products like meat, fish, and eggs. Excluded in this diet are gluten, dairy, refined carbs, refined sugar, and processed foods.

Participation in another popular lifestyle diet, the keto diet, remained robust and consistent from April 2019 to April 2020, but some people are now questioning how healthy keto really is. In contrast to the keto diet, the pegan diet doesn’t aim to reduce your body’s dependency on carbs (your body’s primary energy source).

Instead, the goal of the pegan diet is to replace refined and processed carbs with high-fiber whole foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. According to webMD, many agree that a plant-based diet that focuses on fiber can boost your overall health and lower your risk of certain diseases.

For consumers who participate in diets, the most popular diet is one of their own making, according to NPD’s Eating Patterns in America. NPD reported that consumers who engage in lifestyle diets such as the pegan diet often find lifestyle ‘tribes’ online that match their own wellness values. The hybrid nature of the pegan diet allows for less rigidity than the paleo or vegan diets do alone, which may be an attractive feature to many dieters.


Is the pegan diet destined to become the next big fad?

It’s clear that people are paying attention to what they’re putting into their bodies, and where their food comes from, more than ever before.

“The Pegan diet appeals to these considerations, focusing primarily on whole, plant-based foods while still including some animal proteins and legumes,” says dietitian and nutritionist Jackie Bertoldo MPH, RDN. “While it’s not a new diet, its growing popularity can be attributed to the increased demand for lifestyle diets that tout both health and environmental benefits.”

While the recent surge in popularity of the pegan diet can be attributed to celebrities such as Eva Mendes singing its praises, according to sports nutritionist Allison Sizemore, it’s also because the pegan diet addresses common complaints about veganism lacking protein sources and the paleo diet overemphasizing animal products.

“While the pegan diet is built around several great concepts, such as filling up on fresh veggies and fruits, it is unnecessarily restrictive and may not be a sustainable diet to follow forever,” Sizemore said.

According to Meera Watts, yoga and wellness specialist, the pegan diet is a healthy way of eating, but may be unrealistically expensive and time consuming to maintain.

“With the pegan diet, the food options are wide, but it does come with a cost. For a working person, allowing a lot of time for meal prep won’t be possible. The same goes for the money,” said Watts, a thought leader in the wellness industry. “In my opinion, it’s better to have a healthy, balanced diet while avoiding unhealthy foods. This will save time as well as money, while keeping quality food accessible.”