The answer is yes, according to naturopath Caroline Robertson, from Flannerys Organic and Wholefood Market, who explains the whys and wherefores to The Vegan Company’s Lifestyle Director, Shonagh Walker.
“The ketogenic, or keto, diet is a very low carb, high fat diet which aims to put the body in a metabolic state called ketosis, when sugar stores are depleted,” she explains. “While it’s become popular for quick weight loss, with fans like Halle Berry and Kim Kardashian, it’s also used to treat chronic inflammation conditions and reduce cholesterol and high blood pressure among other issues.”
Here’s the catch for us vegans – the Keto diet involves eating quite a lot of protein and fat – approximately 20 percent protein, 75 percent fat, and 5 percent carbohydrates. Many devotees of this eating plan believe meat to be the most readily available course of said protein. While some might say the keto diet is too restrictive if you’re vegan, Caroline says it’s a diet which vegans can actually safely follow for a short period of time, as long as they plan their meals well.
Here are her top eight tips to get you on your way during a vegan keto diet:
1. Stay focused: It’s important to focus on, and enjoy the foods you can eat, not the things you can’t. Sounds small but really helps with any dietary change!
2. Get organised: There are a lot of foods you can’t eat, so while on the keto it’s worth having a list on your fridge, or and phone, of what you can eat, and food prep to avoid hungrily reaching for non-keto foods.
3. Not all veggies are equal: Try to eat as many low carb vegetables as you can – these are green veggies, cauliflower, tomato, spinach and capsicum as often the ‘above ground’ veggies are lower in carbs. Sea vegetables like dulse and kelp are also good to include.
4. Go for high protein veggies: Good sources of plant-based proteins are mushrooms (be adventurous, there are so many delicious types to choose from, such as shiitake, oyster and Portobello, which are delicious stuffed. Spinach, broccoli and Brussel sprouts are also high in protein.
5. Good high fats: You want to be eating a high fat, low carb diet – so make sure you are getting plenty of plant-based high fat foods like avocado, and nuts (think almonds, walnuts and macadamias). Flax, linseed, pepitas, chia seeds and hemp will also help maintain energy levels.
6. Dairy substitutes: High fat “dairy” products like coconut yogurts, coconut cream, vegan cheeses and milks (coconut, macadamia etc.) are other great sources of proteins and healthy fats.
7. Super foods of the moment: Adding medium-chain triglyceride into smoothies or hot beverages like coffee is an easy, effective and natural way to ‘fuel’ for the body and brain. Healthy oils like extra virgin olive oil, macadamia oil, avocado oil and coconut are great options.
8. Supplementation: While you’re on the keto diet, it might be worth adding additional supplements B6 and 12, D3, DHA & EPA, iron and zinc.
Caroline adds that it’s really important to have a chat with a qualified natural health practitioner before getting started on a vegan keto diet.
“There can be lots of conflicting information and these programs work best when they are tailored to the individual,” she says.
“Also remember, you don’t want to keep your body in a state of ketosis for too long – a keto diet is only recommended for short term periods or spaced out periodically.”