Throughout this article, we will focus on how to implement a vegetarian ketogenic diet that includes eggs and dairy. (No meat, fish, or poultry products will be recommended at all.) On the other hand, if you want to eliminate all animal products for your ketogenic diet, then you will find much better suggestions — like a complete list of dairy and egg alternatives — in our comprehensive guide to the vegan ketogenic diet.
While there are nutritional benefits associated with eating red meats and poultry in moderation, you can certainly still live a ketogenic lifestyle without them. In fact, looking at the bigger picture, the keto diet and vegetarian diet are more sustainable ways of dieting because they rely less on eating massive quantities of meat. Here are a few keto diet recipes you can try today:
The first few days of switching to a ketogenic diet sucks. You'll feel hunger pangs, cravings, grumpy and probably suffer flu-like symptoms. You may even feel light-headed, sometimes. There are a number of reasons for this, including changes in gut biota, as various colonies are "screaming at you" for food, but mainly as your body initially will be looking for a quick glucose energy source, before switching metabolic states and preferring ketones, instead. This takes some patience and discipline.
Getting enough fat and protein on the vegan ketogenic diet shouldn’t be a problem either. Plant-based oils like coconut oil, avocado oil, MCT oil, and olive oil, as well as avocados, nuts, and seeds, will cover all of your fat needs. Moreover, to help cover your protein needs, make sure you have a vegan meat alternative, vegan protein powder, or high protein nuts and seeds with each meal.
Most ketogenic diet plans emphasize the consumption of animal-based products such as grass-fed butter and unprocessed meats, which can make it hard if you’re trying to cut back on your intake of these foods or follow a vegetarian or vegan diet. Fortunately, however, there are also plenty of other high-fat, plant-based choices available for you to choose from as well.
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By being aware of the things you might be deficient in, you could (and should) load up on foods that are rich in those nutrients, such as cheese for vitamin B12, eggs for vitamin D, and leafy greens like kale for calcium. If you are interested in trying keto without eating meat, Mass also recommends easing up on how strict of a vegetarian you are and eating fish if you don’t already since it’s a great source of omega-3s and protein.
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“If you are considering starting any kind of ketogenic diet, you should discuss it first with your doctor. The diet may be harmful if you have existing kidney, liver, or heart disease. If you have diabetes or high blood pressure and are on medications, you should be in close contact with your physician to monitor changes and adjust medications as needed,” Vizthum says.
Although it’s just recently entered the limelight in the past few years, the ketogenic diet actually has a pretty extensive history that stretches back for centuries. Since at least 500 B.C., fasting has been used as a natural method to treat epilepsy. In the 1920s, the ketogenic diet was developed as a way to mimic the effects of fasting and aid in the treatment of seizures in children. (1)
Andrew Heffernan, C.S.C.S., is an award-winning health and fitness journalist whose work appears regularly in Men’s Health and Experience Life. He is the co-author of two fitness books—The Exercise Cure and Your New Prime—and is a frequent top-five finisher as an age-group triathlete and competitive obstacle-course racer. Andrew lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children. Visit him at andrewheffernan.com.