How I Discovered the Vegan-Keto Lifestyle: All Aboard My Journey to Clean Eating!

How I Discovered the Vegan-Keto Lifestyle: All Aboard My Journey to Clean Eating!

So…what do you eat? This is a common question that I’ve been asked by my family and peers. And I’m only happy to enlighten and share with them the common meals and snacks that I enjoy! 

If you asked me five or ten years ago if I’d consider eating a vegan or keto diet, my answer would be that it hadn’t even crossed my mind – in short, no.

To be honest, I wasn’t really familiar with what a Vegan diet consisted of, let alone a Keto diet at the time. 

I had heard of a Vegan diet in Junior High but didn’t think much of it. And in my freshman year of college, a classmate briefly shared with our small group about eating a low-carb, keto diet. Again, I didn’t think much of this at the time either. 

As a “starving college student”, living at home while attending class full-time and working a part-time job in health care, I would of course eat what was prepared for dinner without question.

Most of the time it was a nice frozen Lasagna, Mac ‘n Cheese, Top Ramen, Rotisserie chicken with other side dishes, and other typical family meals in the good ‘ol States. And tasty they were, indeed.

top view of ancient ruins under white cloudy sky

Little did I know that going on a month-long educational service trip to South America with my student peers would serve as a catalyst in several ways..

Guiding me to the foods my body innately needed and preferred!

T’was just before I arrived home from my mini-study abroad to Colombia that I received this clarity! It was certainly a wake up call of what to adjust with my nutrition. During our study abroad we ate the popular foods in the area of meat, grains, and vegetables.

I realized that I needed to include and actually missed eating more fresh vegetables and fruits in my diet. I also knew that I needed to eat less processed foods. 

After arriving home, I would select fresh vegetables and fruits as well as whole grain breads at the store to take home to eat.

My family thought that I was merely on a health food kick. Au contraire, dear family…it was just the beginning of my search for my true nutrition lifestyle. 

The Prehistoric Paleo Path

Shortly after moving into my first apartment and working my first job as an RN graduate, I began to experience extensive breakouts of facial acne (another story for another time). 

I had learned of the Paleo or “caveman” diet through my soul-sister aunt (also improving her nutrition). She shared that it had been helping her and suggested that I give Paleo a try – it may help me as well. 

Intrigued, my inner-student proceeded to do some additional research on the matter.

A Paleo diet consists of eating foods that could be hunted or gathered – as was practiced in the stone age era. I decided to try it. I felt that I could get back into my roots of what foods were best for me and help clear up my facial skin. 

So I went forth and consumed a modified Paleo diet where I continued to eat cheese. I loved cheese. And I honestly wasn’t ready to part with it. 

As the good times rolled in this groove, I discovered and made a bunch of yummy Paleo-style recipes. Including one of my favorites…banana pancakes (humming the Jack Johnson song every time I made them!)!

I complied and played with this diet for quite some time until my aunt discovered and introduced me to the Ketogenic (Keto) diet.

A Keto… What Now?

A Ketogenic diet is a way to bring your body into ketosis by eating high good (or unsaturated) fats and low carbs.  Your body is trained to burn fat for energy instead of carbs – carbs would reduce to sugar.

In a Keto diet, when there isn’t enough sugar or glucose in the body to be used for energy, ketones are formed – produced by the liver from the breakdown of fat. 

Two of the common effects of Keto diet is suppression of appetite and weight loss which can make it appealing for those wanting to lose weight. 

I decided to join in on the bandwagon with a modified-Keto guideline tailored to what my body needed.

My intention with Keto was primarily to cut out the added sugar in my diet found in various foods.

This was also a step in the right direction for me as I felt so much lighter and began to feel more in-tune with my body! 

Plus, I was introduced to new delicious foods that I had never considered trying before that were also super good for me!

This included the yummy:

Looking back, I’m grateful that the Ketogenic diet helped sharpen my awareness of the ingredients in food products found at the grocery store. Especially the items with an abundant amount of sugar in them than I personally needed. 

Learned that the hard way with a certain brand of bacon! …Lesson still learned though!

The day I was guided to check out a documentary on Vegan dieting through my intuition, was life changing

It’s… Vegan Time?

While I did watch the documentary with discernment, after completing the film I questioned through muscle testing if I needed to incorporate this diet in my nutrition. Also questioned if I merely needed to be aware of many of the practices in the food industry. 

My answer was that it was best for me to begin incorporating Vegan foods in my diet. 

A Vegan diet includes foods a vegetarian may eat (veggies of course as well as grains and rice), but also exclude animal products as well as animal byproducts -including dairy products, eggs, etc.

Now, I had been in the Keto diet vibe for a few years at the time and was mindful of making sure my body would be okay with this new transition. And I certainly wanted to ensure that I didn’t put my system into shock by re-incorporating rice and grains.

So looking into Vegan dieting, I searched the net for any low carb Vegan foods. 

Low and behold, I found numerous recipes for not just Vegan diets, but for Vegan-Keto foods! I never even knew this existed!

I was so pleased that I could continue with this new endeavor and keep my body in balance! 

While I did love eating beef, chicken and pork, I said goodbye to them as well as butter and milk when I ate my last grilled chicken.

Then, I said hello to the new stack of Vegan-Keto cookbooks that I bought! 

And I honestly am so glad that I did! 

All Aboard the Vegan-Keto Train…Toot Toot!

shallow focus photography of railway during sunset

My version of Vegan-Keto is that I cook and eat fresh low carb veggies (green leafies and squash!) and low sugar fruits (bring on the berries!).

I cook with organic extra virgin avocado, coconut, and olive oils. In addition, I use unsweetened coconut and almond milk with foods. 

Plus, gotta have my organic peanut and salt only peanut butter as well as simple raw almond butter! And I still have enough carbs with my chia, hemp, pumpkin, and sunflower seeds!

I’ve also been asked, “where do you get your protein?” Well, besides mindful amounts of the nuts (almonds, peanuts, walnuts, etc) and nut butters, lots of fruits and veggies have abundant amounts of protein!

Including but not limited to the following: 

  • avocados– 3 grams of protein per cup
  • black berries – 2 grams protein per cup
  • brussel sprouts – a little over 5 grams per cup
  • broccoli- about 4 grams a stalk
  • asparagus – 4 grams per cup

To be honest, these nutritional guidelines felt so natural to me when I began utilizing them that I have lost track of when I actually started living the Vegan-Keto lifestyle!

I thought, where has this been my whole life?! 

This to me it’s a great metaphor – find what feels true to you. 

As a dear friend of mine would say, “whatever melts your butter” to which I would reply, “my skillet” (side note: I don’t use butter to cook with anymore, but you get my gist.. right?).

If you are also considering changing your nutritional guidelines, I highly encourage you to give the Vegan-Keto lifestyle a try! You’re also more than welcome to take baby steps there or jump in with both feet (and open arms!)!

I’d say that this nutrition lifestyle certainly not only melts my butter, but takes the cake

I have more energy! My skin feels softer! And my body feels great! 

I find new ways every day to create yummy treats! I feel more in-tune with my circadian (sleep cycle) rhythm and I’ve been receiving my intuitive guidance with more clarity!

What else could I even ask for (..besides a trip around the world..)?

I realize now that the nutritional introductions back in my school days had planted seeds for my overall health and well being. From those experiences and where I had been guided since then, I cultivated awareness of what would best serve me in body, mind and spirit through nutrition. 

As was beautifully expressed by the brilliant Chinese philosopher:

“A journey is a thousand miles that begins with a single step.”

Lao Tzu

I’m incredibly grateful for how my experiences in life have unfolded in my journey thus far. Especially that I was guided to and took the first step in choosing to board this train of health and wellness through the Vegan-Keto lifestyle! 

Stay tuned for more from The Empowered Hearth…

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