Tak­ing the fun out of eat­ing

The new pe­gan diet is a bit of ve­gan, a bit of pa­leo and a lot of ef­fort.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Taste -

A NEW diet with a hip name and var­i­ous re­stric­tions seems to pop up ev­ery other day, much to the cha­grin of wait­ers and oth­ers who have trou­ble keep­ing up with the ever-up­dat­ing list of the for­bid­den.

Luck­ily, the pe­gan diet – not to be con­fused with the pa­gan diet, which has yet to be in­vented but surely has po­ten­tial – is a hy­brid of two al­ready-pop­u­lar eat­ing plans: pa­leo and ve­gan.

Fol­low­ing its pre­scrip­tions, you can tell your­self that you’re eat­ing just like a cave­man would, al­beit a cave­man who cares about an­i­mals.

Pa­leo di­ets re­quire ad­her­ents to give up cer­tain foods that our cave­men an­ces­tors couldn’t eat be­cause they didn’t have farm­ing yet, such as rice, pota­toes, noo­dles and bread – even the whole-grain ver­sions.

Plant-based oils (other than olive) and legumes are also no-nos.

Mean­while, a ve­gan diet means giv­ing up all prod­ucts made from an­i­mals, from meat to eggs and milk, for a wholly plant-based way of eat­ing.

US doc­tor Mark Hy­man came up with the idea of fus­ing the con­cepts, putting the fo­cus mostly on lots of veg­eta­bles, very lit­tle sugar, no oils ex­cept for olive oil, no dairy prod­ucts, no pulses, beans or legumes, no gluten and ab­so­lutely no preser­va­tives.

Meat is al­lowed, but is seen as an ac­com­pa­ni­ment, not the main dish.

“Both move­ments fo­cus on foods that are as un­pro­cessed as pos­si­ble, do away with re­fined car­bo­hy­drates and en­cour­age lots of fresh veg­eta­bles,” ex­plains Lisa Hapke from Ger­many’s ProVeg ini­tia­tive.

How­ever, be­cause meat is al­lowed, even in small por­tions, the pe­gan diet is not an op­tion for ve­g­ans.

ProVeg nev­er­the­less praises the diet’s rec­om­men­da­tion to fo­cus on foods with a low gly­caemic in­dex.

The gly­caemic in­dex in­di­cates how foods con­tain­ing car­bo­hy­drates will af­fect blood sugar lev­els, ex­plains Olaf Len­zen, di­rec­tor of the nutri­tion cen­tre at Ber­lin’s Vi­vantes clinic.

“It’s about eat­ing prod­ucts that make you feel full for longer,” he ex­plains. The con­cept was in­tro­duced more than 30 years ago as part of re­search on di­a­betes.

“The con­cept of avoid­ing foods with a high gly­caemic in­dex and in gen­eral eat­ing fresh fruits and veg­eta­bles is ab­so­lutely the right step, be­yond all the trends in nutri­tion th­ese days,” says Len­zen.

How­ever, Len­zen doesn’t agree with pe­gans’ avoid­ance of grains and legumes.

“There is ab­so­lutely noth­ing in the nu­tri­tional science realm that sup­ports that rec­om­men­da­tion – the fi­bre con­tent and mi­cronu­tri­ents those foods pro­vide are an im­por­tant part of a healthy diet.”

Ur­sula Hud­son, di­rec­tor of Slow Food Ger­many, views all new diet trends with scep­ti­cism.

“Trends come in and out of fash­ion,” she says.

Hud­son also be­lieves peo­ple are mov­ing fur­ther and fur­ther away from know­ing the ori­gins of what they eat: They no longer un­der­stand where their food comes from, what’s in sea­son or how to cook cer­tain veg­eta­bles.

She warns against fran­ti­cally look­ing to oth­ers for ad­vice on how to eat in­stead of stick­ing to what’s tried-and-true. – dpa

— dpa

The pe­gan diet com­bines el­e­ments of the ve­gan and pa­leo di­ets. Ad­her­ents base their diet on fresh fruit and veg­eta­bles, but are also al­lowed to eat small amounts of meat.

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