If you're looking to shed pounds and get in shape fast, then chances are you're looking at a vegan vs. keto diet!
Both diets are popular when it comes to weight loss because, when followed strictly, a ketogenic diet or a plant-based diet both have the power to help you shed fat rapidly. However, both diets are quite different, and both diets could involve a drastic change in eating habits and lifestyle.
A keto diet is a high fat and low carb diet - you can still eat meat, dairy, eggs, and other animal products. A vegan diet is entirely plant-based, but you still get to eat carbs!
The pros and cons of a vegan diet need to be weighed against the pros and cons of keto diet. In this article, that's exactly what we're going to do. Keep reading for our in-depth exploration of vegan vs. keto diets.
Vegan vs. keto diets: what's the difference?
Keto or vegan? That's the question you're faced with when you're looking into proven weight-loss diets. The thing is, though, both are very different diets. Their ability to help you lose weight potentially very quickly is perhaps their only major similarity.
There's a lot of difference. It's not as simple as looking at keto diet vs. vegan, but rather, weighing up which lifestyle choice is better for you and which diet you're going to be able to sustain for a long time - enough time to see and maintain the weight loss results or health benefits, that you're looking for!
Let's look at both of these diets in more detail to see what they actually entail.
What is a vegan diet?
A vegan diet is one that only includes plant-based foods. Vegans cut out meat, fish, eggs, and dairy from their diet. Strict vegans also cut out any food or drink that has been made using animal products (such as gelatin, for example).
However, using the term 'diet' is a bit of a misnomer, as losing weight often isn't the primary reason to go vegan. While yes, exclusively eating plant-based foods can definitely help you to shed unwanted pounds, veganism is as much a lifestyle as it is a weight loss regime.
Vegans often adopt a plant-based diet for more than the health benefits (although, as we'll show you soon, the health benefits are excellent!). Many vegans stop eating animals for ethical and moral reasons, while increasingly, it's the environmental pros of vegan diets that are becoming popular, too.
Adopting a plant-based diet helps to cut down on your carbon footprint; it saves the oceans, saves animals, and is a big step towards sustainability. However, a vegan diet can often be overwhelming, but you can realize many of the same benefits (and become more sustainable) by becoming vegetarian (or flexitarian). Check out our more in-depth article examining the pros and cons of being a vegetarian for more information!
What is a keto diet?
A keto, or ketogenic diet, is best described as a high fat and low carb diet. Unlike veganism, a keto diet isn't plant-based (although it could be), and you're free to eat whatever meat, fish, eggs, or dairy you desire, as long it's keto-friendly.
The idea behind a keto diet is that cutting down on carbs (and where possible, cutting them completely) forces your body to enter into a state of ketosis. Rather than your body burning through carbohydrates, keto weight loss occurs because the body is forced to burn through its fat reserves.
Going keto is very effective if your primary goal for adopting a new diet is weight loss, particularly when combined with regular exercise. You don't have to worry so much about what not to eat on keto diets, as long as it's not carbs.
What food can I eat on keto and vegan diets?
Before we jump into the health benefits of either diet, it's worth noting that you may have already decided to go for a ketogenic diet vs. a vegan diet at this point.
For many, the choice of foods available in either diet is the deciding factor (alongside ethical or environmental reasons, if you're choosing to go vegan).
If you want to continue eating meat, then you need to adopt a keto diet for weight loss. You cannot be vegan and not be entirely plant-based! Foods allowed on keto diet include steaks, omelets, salmon, and more.
However, as this is a low carbohydrate diet, foods to avoid on keto include potatoes, pasta, rice, bread, and any other processed carbs. While you can enjoy a bowl of spaghetti or a few slices of toast once every two weeks or so (it's low carb, not no carb), the keto diet isn't going to work out if you're a big fan of pasta or a big bread eater!
You'll also have to drop burritos, tacos, burgers (or at least the burger bun), lasagna, pizza, and a lot more. None of these are keto-friendly foods!
On the other hand, with an increasing number of authentic 'fake meats' available, a vegan diet could be much more attractive if you're looking to continue enjoying favorites like burritos and pizzas. You can order a vegan pizza with plant-based toppings and plant-based cheese, for instance. You could order a tofu burger when you're out for dinner (complete with bun) and countless other plant-based items.
But vegans also have to be careful in their eating habits too. Many food or drink items become out of bounds for a vegan, and if you can't live without authentic cheese, then this isn't the diet for you. Many products are questionable for vegans, too, including honey or wine that's been filtered using animal enzymes.
Vegan vs. keto: which is healthier?
Tastes, ethics, and environmental reasons aside, it becomes a little trickier to decide between a plant-based diet vs. keto diet when you look at the health considerations.
If it's vegan vs keto weight loss that you're judging these diets by, then the ketogenic diet is the winner. Cutting down on carbs and allowing your body to enter a state of ketosis is the quickest way to lose weight. With a plant-based diet, you're still able to consume many carbohydrates, lots of sugars, and indeed, there's the temptation of vegan junk food!
Cutting down carbs on a keto diet is also an excellent way to battle type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Removing carbs from your diet reduces your blood sugar levels, which can help decrease blood pressure and keep your heart healthier.
But is keto bad for you? Not necessarily, but you could find yourself low on energy or struggling to keep to the diet's demands. For some, this is a short-term solution for weight loss or regulating medical conditions, but it can be difficult to sustain long-term.
Veganism, however, also has its health benefits. Importantly, adopting a vegan lifestyle is a long-term fix, as the health benefits are realized over your lifespan rather than in a few weeks. Long-term plant-eating is sustainable, and cutting out meats reduces your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes in the first instance rather than being a quick fix (in this respect, veganism is prevention rather than a cure).
A vegan diet is also packed full of nutrients and minerals, many of which you lose out on in large quantities when adopting a keto diet. With a vegan diet, you're packing your diet full of leafy greens, beans, and much more, all of which are high in vitamins.
Can I be vegan and keto?
Of course, if you're still undecided, then you could take on the ultimate challenge. Rather than deciding between keto vs. plant-based or low carb vs. vegan, you could embrace both sides!
This, however, is very difficult to keep going for an extended period. On the keto diet, for instance, you gain a lot of energy through eating meat. Go vegan and keto, and the number of vegan and keto-approved foods you can technically eat drops dramatically.
You may need to forget about eating out at restaurants, but a vegan and keto diet is attainable at home. It's important to plan meals, though, to ensure that you are still consuming the necessary nutrients and vitamins.
Vegans going ketogenic need to rely on low carb, high protein plant foods such as tofu or tempeh. Avocados and coconut oil become a source of fats for energy, while nuts and seeds become invaluable snacks.
If you're going for weight loss, then a vegan keto diet can't be beaten!
Vegan vs. keto: what's your decision?
When it comes down to choosing a ketogenic diet vs. a plant-based diet, the choice depends on several factors. If you're looking for a short-term fix and rapid weight loss, then there's no doubt that the keto diet is the one for you.
Keto diets are difficult unless you eat meat and dairy (this is one of the unavoidable negatives of ketogenic diet!). For anyone concerned about meat-eating or looking to become more environmentally friendly, then the plant-based diet is clearly the way forward, even if the weight loss isn't quite so rapid.
The vegan lifestyle is much more sustainable, too, and the long-term health benefits far outweigh the short term effects of a keto diet. Ultimately, though, it's your body, your diet, and your choice!
Why not bookmark our guide to vegan vs. keto diets so that you can make the most informed decisions about your lifestyle?