Food has acquired a new religion—Peganism. The current buzzword in the wellness circuit is the pegan plan, which includes 75 percent vegetables and 25 percent high-quality meat. And it is for the inveterate weightwatchers. Most of us are familiar with either of the two surrogates of the pegan plan—paleo and vegan. Presented to the world by the US-based Cleveland Clinic doctor and bestselling author Dr Mark Hyman in 2015, the pegan diet supports a novel practice of nourishment by integrating the cores of the paleo diet with veganism. Astonishingly at the start, paleo and vegan diets seem to be an erratic combo in nature as the former is meat-based and the latter excludes any kind of animal product. Pegan inherits the best of both worlds—plant-rich, whole foods, healthy fats with minimum processed foods, and reduced sugar and starch intake.
Understanding the Plan
Dr Hyman advocates nutritious plant foods low in sugar and starch and those which promote HDL (high-density lipid) or good fat like nuts and seeds, olive oil and avocados. Nutritionist Ritu Gupta, the founder of Nutrique, a New Delhi-based weight and health management portal, explains, “The pegan diet focuses strongly on whole foods that are plant-based and discourages eating conventionally farmed meats or eggs.
Instead, it places emphasis on grass-fed, pasture-raised sources of poultry, and whole eggs. It does help reduce inflammation and maintain blood sugar levels naturally for a healthier you.” Anisha Arora Chopra, a 37-year-old dentist from Raipur, who found it difficult to follow it in the initial stages, testifies the beneficial effects of this regimen. “After a month into the pegan diet, it felt amazing. I saw many changes, some of which were that I lost six kilos in two months. My anxiety attacks stopped occurring and I slept better,” she states. Chopra says that her blood sugar levels are in better control without any medicines,
she can focus better on work and personal life, and is an overall happier person now.
The Nutritional Gap
There is no definition of an ideal diet. Every eating habit we have comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Nutraceutical Formulation expert and the founder of supplement brand PRO2FIT, Saurabh Shah answers: “Essentially, every diet choice we make needs to be supplemented well to avoid lack of nutrient deficiency. Vegans usually find it difficult to meet their daily protein, calcium, Vitamin B12 needs. It becomes necessary to complement it with the right kind of supplements so that the deficiency of these is met to avoid complications.”
Starch is an essential part of our diet as they provide energy to the body. Avoiding any particular macro-nutrient from the diet is not advisable. “Everything, when eaten in proportion, serves its purpose in the body and the same applies to starch and carbs. Carbs (starch, fibre, sugar) are a good source of energy, iron, Vitamin B, provided it is not processed,” advises Shah.
Unlike vegan, it’s not featured in restaurant menus yet but awareness among chefs is created by requests for preparations with specific ingredients. Ganesh Chandrakant Teli, the Executive Chef at The Leela Palace Jaipur, who innovated sweet potato burritos and shrimp with zucchini noodles on a guest’s request, says, “It can be compared to the very popular Mediterranean diet—fresh and organic ingredients, heart-friendly, obesity-controlled and aids in keeping disorders at bay.”
The pegan diet is trending as it allows vegans to have animal products in moderation. “It broadens their dietary choices, and lowers the chance of developing deficiencies. This is something Indians have been following since long,” concludes Dietician Rajat Jain, founder of Health Wealth Diet Clinic.
Pegan meal bowl
Recipe by Balvinder Pal Singh Lubana, Executive Chef Marriott, Hyderabad
✥ French beans 50 gm
✥ Button mushroom 50 gm
✥ Broccoli 25 gm
✥ Cherry Tomatoes 6 pieces
✥ Bok Choy 50 gm
✥ Zucchini 3 pieces
✥ Brussels sprouts 4 gm
✥ Hald an Avocado
✥ Coconut oil (unrefined) 1 tsp
✥ Poached Eggs 2
✥ Boiled chickpeas 1 cup
✥ Chopped garlic cloves 4
✥ Chopped onions 1
✥ Himalayan pink salt to taste
✥ A spring of basil
✥ Wash and clean all vegetables thoroughly before processing
✥ In a deep pan, add water to boil chickpeas
✥ Cut the mushrooms into ½ or ¼. They need to be even-sized. Cut broccoli into florets. Peel the asparagus. Cut the French beans into batons, and zucchini into batons.
✥ Add salt, garlic to the mushrooms, and set aside.
✥ In a pan, add broccoli and a little water, salt and steam the broccoli. Repeat with the beans and zucchini.
✥ In a sauce pan, add the garlic, 1 tsp coconut oil and roast till the raw smell goes away
✥ Add the mushroom and sauté till mushrooms are done. Remove and sauté the bokchoy.
✥ Add 1 tsp oil, and add the rest of the garlic and the cooled chickpea and sauté
✥ In a deep pot, bring water to a boil, add a little salt and vinegar, swirl the water with a perforated spoon and slowly add whole egg so it coagulates. Take out once the exterior is firm
and transfer into cold water.
✥ In a wide bowl, add the bokchoy, 1-2 tsp sautéed chickpeas, 1 tsp mushrooms, the vegetables, and poached egg. Garnish with chopped basil, sliced avocado, and cherry tomatoes.
✥ Serve immediately