I’m not a vegetarian (although my wife and son have dabbled with it). I’m certainly not a vegan. I don’t recommend that anyone eat a totally plant-based diet for health reasons. Animal foods are too good, too central to our evolutionary history, and too important for our physiology to ever give up entirely. On the contrary, I think meat, eggs, seafood, and dairy are some of the healthiest foods on the planet, and most people should be eating more of them than they currently eat.
However, plant-based diets are exploding in popularity and I know people are going to eat them—and I care about people’s health. If they’re going to do it anyway, I’d like to help them do the diet in the healthiest way possible.
Short answer: Yes. Anyone can go keto, including vegans. It might be a lot harder to stay vegan, but they can certainly go keto. Nothing stopping them. The more the merrier.
Jokes aside. Can someone go keto while remaining vegan?
That’s a tougher problem. Not intractable. But real tough.
Why is it so hard?
I get a fair amount of emails from vegetarian readers asking how to start eating meat again after a period of vegetarianism or veganism. Although they see the health benefits of reclaiming omnivorism, they’re hesitant about the transition itself. As you all know, I have a number of vegetarians in my life, and there are many present and active in our MDA community. I empathize with the thinking that goes into their commitment, but I choose to eat meat and obviously encourage others to do the same for the sake of optimum health.
I’ve found their concerns generally fall into four areas that I’ll label taste, digestion, morality, and psychology. For all the vegetarians out there interested in rejoining the omnivorous side, let me take up your concerns and offer some Primal-minded suggestions.
In response to the recent post on whey vs. collagen, a number of readers wrote in asking about pea protein. Today, I’m going to compare the two.
Before I begin, let’s get this out of the way: I’m biased toward whey protein. I sell the stuff. But the reason I sell whey protein is because I really like it, not the other way around. All my products are things that solved a problem I was having, an itch I needed to scratch. I made Primal Kitchen Mayo with avocado oil because I couldn’t find one without industrial seed oils and I didn’t want to make it fresh every time I wanted tuna salad. I put together Adaptogenic Calm (formerly Primal Calm) to help me and my buddies recover from heavy training. And so on. I made Primal Fuel out of whey protein isolate because it is the best gram-for-gram protein powder around. But pea protein is having its day in the sun now, and readers want the facts.
I’ll start with the bad news: There are no vegetarian collagen sources. Every collagen supplement you see on the shelf came from a living organism. Though somewhere down the line someone will probably grow legitimate collagen in a lab setting, it’s not available today or for the foreseeable future.
Now, some good news: Vegans and vegetarians probably need less dietary collagen than the average meat eater or Primal eater because a major reason omnivores need collagen is to balance out all the muscle meat we eat. When we metabolize methionine, an amino acid found abundantly in muscle meat, we burn through glycine, an amino acid found abundantly in collagen. If you’re not eating muscle meat, you don’t need as much glycine to balance out your diet, but it’s still a dietary necessity.
For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering four questions. First, is air-frying gentler than deep-frying? Does it produce less acrylamide? Second, what do I think of a reader’s Primal-style plant-based way of eating? It’s actually quite good. Third, why didn’t I mention the Perfect Health Diet in last week’s post on top trending diets? And last, did I make a typo or grammatical error when I wrote “bad rap”?
Let’s find out:
For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering 5 questions from readers. First, I give my desert island cookware material—the type of pan I’d choose if I could only have one. Next, I explain whether carnosine, creatine, and taurine supplements are suitable for vegetarians. After that, I give a good option for bulk frying oil that’s safe and won’t break the bank. Fourth, I explain how you can get enough B12 on a keto vegetarian diet (and it’s not that difficult at all). And finally, I explain how a small change can have huge effects on the quality of one’s life.
This is one of the most common queries I receive: How do I go keto as a vegetarian?
One way to go keto as a vegetarian is to stop being vegetarian. You begin as a vegetarian, make the conscious decision to go keto, and then cease vegetarianism. Seriously, just try it out. A little animal won’t hurt you. Promise.
Okay, jokes aside: How do you go keto while remaining vegetarian?
Once you let the dust settle and consider the proposition with a calm, clear mind, going keto as a vegetarian isn’t all that outlandish.
I joke around a lot and give them hell, but I have love and respect for plant-based diets and the people who eat them. These folks come at health from an entirely different place, and, it’s true, I don’t think their diets are optimal. I think they get a lot wrong. They often misconstrue what Primal is all about. I’ve even received threats from some of the less grounded members of the community, though I know that these are the outliers, the extremists, and I never took them seriously.
But…I’d also suggest plant-based dieters get a lot right. More than you’d think.
Five years ago, I wrote about all the odd animal bits one can find at ethnic markets. I procured and photographed the blood, the guts, the tendon, the tripe, the tails and heads and feet and all the other weird things you can and should eat—meaty bits you won’t find in the local Whole Foods.
Today, I’m going to talk about the weird plant bits available in ethnic markets—spices, greens, roots, noodles, and fermented things.