Is a Keto Vegan Diet Healthy and Sustainable?
If you're curious about going keto, you're far from alone. This trendy diet has been making waves for years: in 2020, "keto" was the most Googled food-related topic in the world!
Keto may be something of a buzzword in the food industry, but that doesn't mean it's easy for newcomers to get started. This is especially true if you avoid animal-based products for health or ethical reasons.
After all, is a keto diet vegan? Is it something you can stick with for more than a few weeks?
The truth is, the keto diet wasn't designed to fit with a vegan diet, but that doesn't mean strict vegans haven't adjusted it to their liking! Here's what you should know if you're trying to combine these two healthy diets.
What Is Keto?
Let's start with the basics: what is the keto diet, and is it right for you?
The Basics of Keto
The keto diet is short for "ketogenic diet." It gets its name from "ketosis," or the goal metabolic state it puts the body into. We reach this metabolic state by reducing the number of carbs we eat.
When your body reaches ketosis, it begins using stored fat for energy. To do this, it breaks fat cells into molecules called ketone bodies. Until you start to eat certain foods again, including carbohydrates, the body will continue using ketone bodies for energy.
In other words, the keto diet makes you much more efficient at burning fat. This makes it great for people seeking a simple weight loss regimen. Because the keto diet can also reduce blood sugar and insulin levels, it carries other health benefits as well.
What to Eat on a Keto Diet
There are a few different variations of the keto diet. However, with the standard keto diet, you'll eat high-fat, low-carb foods.
You'll also need to get a moderate protein intake as well. Because the body converts high amounts of protein into glucose, it can make it harder for you to reach a state of ketosis.
While on the keto diet, you'll want to reach for the following foods:
- Seafood, especially fatty fish like salmon and tuna
- Meat and poultry
- Nuts and seeds
- Healthy oils, such as olive oil, butter, and mayonnaise
- High-fat dairy products such as heavy cream and sour cream
- Low-carb, above-ground veggies like spinach and green beans
- Berries, in moderation
- Unsweetened coffee, tea, and plant-based milk
- Dark chocolate
As mentioned above, it's important to avoid eating carb-heavy foods. This includes grains, starches, fruits, legumes, sugars and artificial sweeteners, alcohol, and sweets.
Is a Keto Diet Vegan?
As you can likely tell from the list above, the keto diet is not vegan by default! In fact, the classic keto diet involves many different animal products. This may make vegetarian and vegan dieters hesitant to try it out.
However, if you prefer to eat vegan, there are a few key changes worth making to the traditional diet.
Vegan dieters will want to avoid animal-based foods on the list above, including meat and poultry, eggs, seafood, and dairy products. At the same time, you'll still want to limit your intake of the carb-heavy foods we've mentioned, such as starches, grains, and sugars.
Fortunately, many of the staples of a vegan diet are fine to eat on a vegan keto diet as well. Coconut products, nuts and seeds, and avocados, for example, are great options to put on your plate.
The biggest change is the switch to vegan protein sources. Full-fat proteins are ideal.
Here are some protein- and fat-rich foods you can still eat on a vegan keto diet:
- Nuts and seeds
- Nut butters
- Soy and coconut milk
- Vegan butter
- Coconut yogurt
- Healthy oils like olive oil or coconut oil
One vegan favorite is off-limits, however: legumes. This family of foods includes beans and lentils, which are loaded with protein, fiber, and antioxidants. They're also rich in carbs, which can make it impossible for you to reach ketosis.
Is a Vegan Keto Diet Sustainable?
Given how many dietary restrictions there are, it's safe to say that a plant-based keto diet can be hard to adjust to. Not only will you need to avoid carbs, but you'll also have to avoid animal products as well.
In addition, it's important to make sure you're getting all the nutrients you miss out on due to those dietary restrictions. Vegan dieters, for example, often have to supplement their lifestyle with essential vitamins like B12 and iron. It's also crucial to make sure you're getting enough protein.
Of course, just because you have to pay more attention to your diet doesn't mean it's impossible! If this healthy diet fits into your lifestyle, it can be sustainable.
Like any diet, it's much easier to stick with if you plan in advance. Tactics like creating meal plans, for example, can help you make the diet feel effortless.
It's also a good idea to stock up on keto-friendly foods and snacks, making it easy to reach for them as soon as you start feeling hungry. Consider things like chocolatey keto fat bombs, low-carb noodle soups, and low-carb flour substitutes. These products may be harder to find than their carb-loaded relatives, but they'll help you stick to your diet with ease.
Make Your Vegan Keto Diet a Breeze
To make your keto diet vegan, you'll have to reconsider the kinds of foods you put on your plate. Despite the restrictions, this simple diet can be sustainable as long as you've put some forethought into your meals!
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