Vegetarian and Keto
In my private practice I have had many Vegetarian patients, and even some Vegan, over the years. Currently while working with IDM we also have many patients who are Vegetarian and would like to enter the "Keto World" and benefit from it. Many of these patients are Diabetic. In fact, now that I think about it, even in my practice in Mozambique, many of my Vegetarian patients were Diabetic and consequently had Coronary Heart Disease. Many, past and present, were recovering from Strokes and Heart Attacks. This, to many of you, and even to me at the time seemed like an oxymoron: Vegetarians with Heart Disease? But, I thought it was animal fat and animal products that "caused" Heart Disease?!? (maybe a topic for a future blog)
Before I digress, let me tell you why I'm writing this blog today. I have finally gathered the time and resources to make a Vegetarian Keto Guide. As such, I obviously believe that you can be vegetarian and get into ketosis, in a healthy way, otherwise I wouldn't give these patients a guide. First, do no harm. This is the first Principle of Naturopathic Medicine, and I follow it to the best of my ability. But I will tell you this: being Vegetarian, or Vegan, does not automatically mean you have a healthy diet. In fact, I find that it is very hard to follow a healthy diet if you are Vegetarian or Vegan, unless you really know what you are doing. I respect all food-choices, and will guide people according to whatever beliefs they have, if I can, but I also have my own beliefs and I like to make them know.
Last year at a conference, I heard a speaker (very funny guy by the way) Peter Ballerstedt, PhD, who I now follow, and he said something that rang very true with me. So first, I will tell you his motto, "We eat grass so you don't have to", lol, HILARIOUS (he is talking about their grass-fed cows, obviously)! So this is what he said that got me: We, as humans, are "obligate carnivores, and preferential omnivores". Not herbivores. You can interpret this as you wish, but for me, this rang true. Now, we, as humans, are also very complicated beings. We have cultures, religions, clans, beliefs, likes and dislikes, and none of this can be disputed, this is what makes us HUMAN, and ultimately distinguishes us from our animal counterparts. So, what am I trying to say here, in plain English? I believe that, from a physiological point of view, we do better on a carnivorous diet (eating meats, of all sorts) and should eat vegetables whenever possible (which now means all the time) along with meats. Meat here being the common denominator. This is what I believe, personally and professionally. But seeing as I am a Naturopath, and not a Veterinarian (hahaha), I respect my patients' ethics and beliefs, and as such, I am often caring for Vegetarians, and sometimes Vegans.
So I finally got my lazy/busy-self together, and after utilizing the great sources out there came up with a proper guide for my Vegetarian patients. I will reference the sources below, and eventually even add a page on my site, but basically, there are food lists, divided into protein-rich, fat-rich and low-carb sources, that comprise a low carb, appropriate protein and high fat diet (aka Keto diet) for Vegetarians. It is possible, and tasty, but if you are going to embark on this journey, as a Vegetarian, or not, make sure you are properly informed and guided.