How Effective is Vegan Keto? Your Guide to Optimal Nutrition
Keto is one of the biggest new fad diets out right now, with scores of proponents singing its praises. Despite its popularity however, this high fat, low carb diet is not everything it’s made out to be in terms of an health solutions and optimal nutrition. Hence why so many are adapting it into vegan keto, which is what we will mostly be discussing.
The keto diet gets its name from ketosis, a metobolic state produced by robbing the body of carbohydrates in order to force a highly efficient conversion of fat into energy. Essentially, the goal is to make use of prolonged ketosis, by withholding carbs and replacing them with fats, with the end result often being weight loss and more energy.
Of course, this should throw some red flags up immediately for anyone who is aware of the dangers of meat consumption, metabolic states, how our body uses carbohydrates, and bodily pH as it pertains to acids.
One point of keto that is often overlooked by its supporters is that what is happening to the body under prolonged ketosis is actually acute ketoacidosis, which basically means the blood has achieved an acidic pH that will begin to damage internal organs, specifically the liver and the kidneys. Many people who have cancer are experiencing mild ketoacidosis, and this condition is also a complication of Type 1 Diabetes.
In short, keto as a lifestyle is extremely dangerous. Taken in short bursts and under strict monitoring, typical keto diets can produce impressive results in terms of improving one’s metabolism however, which is one of its primary draws. It has become such an enormous fad due in part because of its reliable ability to help people lose weight fast.
No diet that promotes fat consumption over carbs could ever be good for us as a species, because we are biologically designed to be fueled by carbs before anything else. We’re not designed to rely heavily on proteins and fats, which trend toward the acidic scale and damage us in a multitude of ways if consumed over time.
This is where vegan keto comes in.
Vegan Keto: A Healthy Way to Eat Less Carbs?
There are many varieties of veganism, that range anywhere from optimal nutrition to nothing but Oreo’s and French Fries. Vegans however, by and large, are healthier than most because they tend to be health-conscious and not so focused on dangerous foods like meat and dairy.
Vegan keto is a diet that while healthier than the typical Western diet, and even some varieties of veganism, is still problematic because of its heavy reliance on fats and proteins over carbs. This is because keto by definition vilifies fruits and grain, treating them as the cause of most of our dietary ills. Of course, this is absolute nonsense, but they make it sound convincing to the unwary.
Keto works off of a few basic erroneous standpoints from which its entire philosophy is derived. Namely, that the sugars in fruit are dangerous and are related to insulin imbalances, that excessive carbs are worse for the body than excessive fats and proteins, and that prolonged ketosis can be sustained without damage to the body.
Naturally, all three of these points need little elaboration as to why they are nonsense, given you even have a rudimentary knowledge of the human digestive system, dentation, natural pH level, and the difference between good sugars and bad sugars.
It is worth noting our relatives in nature, the chimps, bonobos, and gorillas, who gorge themselves daily on high-sugar fruits yet who never have problems with carbs, weight, or insulin levels. All without ever having to go out of their way to get protein or rely on steaks and cow milk. Funny, isn’t it?
That simple point spells a lot out right there: if you’re not adhering to a natural diet, you’re approaching “diet” from the wrong standpoint to begin with, and all of your subsequent conclusions will thus be false. Nothing trumps biology. Despite thousands of years of cultural behaviors and tens of thousands of years of eating practices borne from desperation in the wild, we still have the biology of fruit-eating apes.
The human animal is frugivorous, of this there can be no doubt. So keto is immediately faced with a massive problem of having to attempt to “argue out of our biology” so to speak, which works quite well given the fact that our biological place in the world is not a popular topic in the media or in school. So we are left with diet fads and their proponents constantly shaping the narrative.
For a while, we had spokespeople for the Atkins diet claiming it was a “health revolution.” Well of course we now know that’s a load of crock. And the keto diet isn’t very far removed from the Atkins diet. Keto, being a craze with diehard supporters and little true science to back up its claims, relies on the ignorance of the populace to thrive. So there are plenty of vegans who eat the way they do simply because they heard it’s healthy, good for the environment, or helps animals, not even realizing it’s our natural diet. So they might be inclined to believe keto also has its merits and attempt to merge the two diets.
Hence we have the anomaly that is “vegan keto.” But how can a vegan diet work without relying on carbs, and is it actually healthy for you to begin with?
It’s true that if your body is already in an unhealthy state, such as inflicted with diabetes, the wrong kind of vegan diet can make your symptoms worse before they get better. It’s important to realize though that carbs and sugar are not your enemy, even if you have diabetes. Your body has been damaged because of the intake of acidic and processed foods and is currently unbalanced and broken due to acidosis.
We are biologically designed to live off of complex carbohydrates. There’s simply no getting around this. Fruit is the highest, most nutrient-rich food on Earth, because it is designed progressively by plant-species to be consumed by animals for the sake of propagating their species. Most fruits have adapted over millions of years to be highly-concentrated sources of life. That’s what they are designed to do: give heath and life to what eats them.
So any diet that attempts to disparage fruit is fighting a losing battle.
A similar argument can be made about grain. Grain plants are another source of carbs, but because we are not natural seed eaters (granivores), the grains often have to be prepared in ways that strip some of their nutrient content, burn it away, or turn it into a form our bodies may not enjoy digesting as much as fruits and vegetables.
Grain plants developed over many millions of years to be desirable and healthy for the animals that eat them. It’s what propagates their species, after all (that and the wind). Animals like birds have adapted specifically to become granivores. While we can extract some of the nutrients from cooked grains, we much prefer them in less manipulated forms. Breads and pastas, of course, are modified forms of grain and are thus not as healthy for us as say, fruits.
Are they really unhealthy for the body, though?
The evidence suggests grains are actually quite healthy for us. The key is getting these nutrients in the right forms. Obviously, the less processed, the better. Grains are one of those foods that become “empty” fast. You don’t want to be eating too much white bread or enriched / bleached white rice. This stuff, in high amounts, is just empty carbs. Meaning, the carbs are there, but they are no longer connected to any nutrients or plant-based cofactors that make them beneficial for the body and a fast metabolism. This is how insulin imbalance begins, and can be just as deadly as consuming meat.
It is quite possible to enjoy the health benefits of seed grains without being a true granivore however. You want to aim for grain foods that are labeled “whole grain,” which typically means the product contains the germ, which is the vital nutrient part of the grain that is essential for cooking a product that still retains healthy ratios of vitamins and minerals. You’ll find that when you really look into eating whole grains, wheat rarely comes into the picture.
Humans, being desperate, have found ways to make use of many different kinds of food. Wheat is probably a plant that we shouldn’t be eating. It has to be modified from its original form too much for most products in order to be consumed, and many people are allergic to its modified forms and develop an intolerance to it. You’re much better off eating quinoa, oats, brown rice, and corn.
In a “vegan” keto model, one would probably abstain from eating too much grain. Though grains are healthy, too much (especially the processed kinds) are not our optimal nutrition, and supply us with excess carbs we really don’t need. So yes, while keto itself is mostly a fraud, there are some underlying bits of wisdom (as most fad diets contain).
While there’s truly no “healthy” way to cut out carbs completely, you can seek to eat carbs that are full of more optimal nutrition: fruits.
Someone eating a vegan keto diet would also be more inclined to eat vegetables low in carbs (broccoli, asparagus, Swiss chard, avocado, spinach, celery, etc.), plenty of seeds and nuts, coconut and almond milk and related vegan dairy products, tofu and seitan (sparingly), kelp / seaweeds, and mushrooms.
There is certainly health benefits to be gained from not relying on processed grains, which make up a large portion of the average vegan’s diet. A keto vegan diet tends to resemble a raw vegan diet in that raw fruit and vegetable smoothies tend to be a staple. This is a good thing, as this would be our natural diet in the wild.
Think of it this way, if we were living in a sub-tropical forest, foraging like our ancestors, how many noodles and potatoes would we be eating? Exactly.
Vegan keto, in this way, takes keto to its true roots: a diet that more resembles what we ate in the distant past, or in other words, what our biology is actually designed to eat.
Getting Enough Fat and Protein on Vegan Keto
Obviously, regular keto relies heavily on meat for fat and protein. Make no mistake, though a diet that cuts out processed foods and sugars in favor of meat is “healthier,” it still has long-term effects on the body that will inevitably lead to acidosis and a breakdown of body function. Though we can tolerate meat more than say, the bonobo and gorilla, we’re still frugivores at heart, and a diet made up mostly of meat (especially cooked) is a death-sentence.
Even obligate carnivores would develop issues if all they ate was cooked meat and not raw. As humans can’t really eat most meat raw to begin with, this completely classes us out of being omnivores (and utterly debunks keto as a diet or lifestyle, but that’s another story).
It would be a mistake to assume that meat is the only way to get fat and protein, however. Other animals function just fine getting all the fat and protein they need, including towering behemoths like elephants, gorillas, and giraffes. Vegans are in good company.
Let’s take a look at some vegan sources of fat:
- Nuts (walnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, etc.)
- Seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, flax, chia)
- Nut milks (almond, coconut, cashew, soy)
- Palm oil
- Olive Oil
- Soy Products (yes, soy is actually extremely healthy. Don’t buy into the “soy hate train.” Soy is one of the healthiest foods on Earth.)
And here are some key vegan sources of protein:
- Lima beans
- Nut milks
- Seeds (Chia, Pumpkin)
- Nuts (Pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts)
You can see there is some overlap. Seeds and nuts seem to be highly nutritious food: it is extremely likely that seeds and nuts were one of the early staples of our diets (not meat, as some would claim). What’s particularly good about seeds and nuts is that they are the perfect “snacking” foods: just graze on them throughout the day. They are like optimized fuel for us, and should be eaten in abundance on a vegan keto diet (or any diet concerned about health, really).
It’s also typical practice in vegan keto to supplement protein into fruit and vegetable smoothies, usually with pea protein. There is nothing wrong with this, especially in the beginning of starting the diet, since we aren’t accustomed to eating tons of seeds and nuts in a single day, and some people are unfamiliar with nut milks and how to prepare mushrooms.
It’s important to remember that all fruits and vegetables have at least a little protein, and yes, it’s protein we can use. The “protein myth” that says some proteins are complete and some aren’t has been grossly exaggerated and repeated as gospel in health circles for decades without having any basis in fact.
The truth is, meats have complex proteins (amino acids already constructed into a protein chain), which our bodies can’t really even use immediately. We must first break down these protein chains to get to the amino acids. Conversely, every plant doesn’t have every single amino acid like a complete protein chain, but this isn’t how we evolved to use protein. We need the individual amino acids, and are more than happy getting them in separate doses from different foods. It’s actually extra work for our body to break down the protein chains in meat, and the process creates acids which then need to be neutralized with the minerals from our bones. In other words, plant proteins are optimal, not the other way around.
Of course, on vegan keto you’re going to want to pay attention to your protein and fat intake more than if you were just on a normal vegan diet, so that you can potentially achieve ketosis and reap its marginal benefits, but if you’re willing to go this far into eating a healthy diet, from an holistic point of view, you’re better off just following a natural diet instead of a fad.
Don’t Follow Diet Fads, Your Body Deserves Better
Inevitably, keto will eventually be exposed for what it is: a dangerous fad. While vegan keto is healthier than normal keto, no one should want to put their body in prolonged ketosis. Eventually keto will be looked at the way most people look at the Atkins diet today: a potentially lethal dietary circus that will likely end up with several “fitness gurus” on the wrong end of a lawsuit, and thousands of people with more medical bills.
When it comes to doing what is right for your body, there are three factors, and three alone, that you should be looking at:
These are the 3 pillars that all “diets” should start from. If a diet doesn’t follow these three basic guidelines, it’s simply a modern-day fad or ignorance.
Given what we know about human biology, where do we fit in nature? No, not the hilarious fairy-tales that paint ancient humans as fierce hunters who were clubbing mammoths left and right, but the real historical human being: a meek, frugivorous ape (whose closest relative in nature is the vegan bonobo and 98% vegan chimpanzee), who lived in the boughs of sub-tropical trees, eating seeds and fruits, lounging around with no natural predators (as can be seen by our lack of biological defense mechanisms).
We have the biology of a fruit-eating ape species, through and through. Everything from our alkaline saliva, our long colons, and small mouth opening with lateral jaw movement points to us being fruit eaters. Naturally, we have no means of digesting meat in large amounts, especially for any prolonged length of time. Furthermore, we have no business being in prolonged ketosis.
If you want the same effects as keto but without the drawbacks, simply eat a natural vegan diet. People get into keto to lose weight and gain energy: this is what a natural diet does without any of the dangerous side effects. When you raise your metabolism by eating foods that don’t “clog up the system,” you naturally lose weight. This also occurs when you build muscle.
Want the surefire recipe for being more healthy than you’ve ever been in your life? It doesn’t take a crazy fad diet. All you have to do is gain muscle and eat less processed foods. The increase in muscle mass will naturally increase your metabolic rate, you will be gaining more optimal nutrition to fuel your cells and repair your body, and you will begin to burn fat almost effortlessly.
It goes back to the three pillars. What would we be doing in nature? Constantly using our muscles (all over our entire body, not just isolated muscles like biceps or calves), moving around, eating nothing but highly nutritious fruits, nothing processed, no sitting in front of a TV or at a desk for hours. Nature has the plan, not any fitness guru. The best a teacher of health can do is guide you toward what nature has already written. They do no writing themselves.
Remember this when someone tries to sell you on a diet. If it doesn’t follow what our biology requires, it was probably invented by some quack for money and fame, and has no business being called “healthy.” This is why veganism is rising to popularity, and is also so controversial: it actually adheres to what nature intended, and has the potential to put all fad diets and half the heath industry out of business. That is the power of real nutrition: it produces real results.