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Keto vs Vegan: Let the Diet Wars Begin!

Is There a True Winner?

[References to this Article]



Too often this is how these conversations start and end, with one insisting their chosen diet, can kick your diet’s butt.


As the PubMed studies are flying back and forth with great vengeance and fury, getting even more heated, we wonder if knife and gunplay are forthcoming.

As flawed and fallible humans, we view the world through black and white contrast and want to be right about our conclusions.

The problem is, this is not how science works, as both diets have evidence to support their use.

Remaining open to the possibility of errors in our conclusions, allows our conclusions to improve, as they usually do with additional information.

It’s not about being right, but evolving into stronger positions.

[Related Article: Slimming Down with The Top Science-Backed Supplements]

[Related Article: How to Fix Keto Diet and Vegan Diet Deficiencies]

By default, we sort our options as all or nothing, when sometimes the truth can be somewhere in the middle.

And what do we lose through this “Us versus Them”, type of thinking?

Is this is type of simplistic thinking empowering or limiting?

Where is this guy going with this rambling introduction?

Good question.

After 14 years of living as a health optimizer, this question is immensely flawed and even more limiting.

It’s not a question of either X or Y?

Instead, it’s a question of diet customization, diet strategy, diet sustainability, and diet goals.

Do you remember the story of the tortoise versus the rabbit?

As we open our minds to the possibility of a better way, let’s dig deeper into the bigger takeaways.

#1 What is the Keto Diet? (Diet Sustainability)

Diet sustainability is a massive factor and one which we neither think about nor hear about.

Instead, with all-or-nothing absolutist keto vs vegan thinking, we lose sight of the idea consistent 80-90% execution beats outperforms 100% execution when only performed in short periods.

Most people following a diet are more like a Yo-Yo than an actual dieter, while not realizing diet sustainability.

This is incredibly defeating both mentally and physically to be constantly failing.

Often when you hear the people get emotional in the defense of their current diet, they rarely have much experience with it.

These “diet wars” get extreme in their ideology and their us vs them approach.

My current “diet” is 10 years old in 2020.

Am I on a keto diet or vegan diet

I follow neither one with any exclusivity and instead customize the best parts to my genes while creating enormous diet sustainability, optimizing my long-term results.

Usually when someone is insisting on the “my diet is best”, they don’t have a lot of time with it.

How long can someone go without eating ONLY meat or without eating a “carb”?

Is this sustainable over time?

Many will say no.

If one can achieve effective diet sustainability after 3 to 5 years with their 100% vegan diet or keto diet, then let’s hear about it.

#2 What is Veganism? (Diet Customization)

Diet customization is another giant factor when looking at what is veganism all about.

This faulty idea in the keto vs vegan debate assumes we are genetically the same and will all respond the same to a diet.

When done correctly, the vegan diet, and as well the keto diet, can both deliver noteworthy health benefits.

We find solid studies showing tremendous reductions in cancers, heart disease, hypertension, obesity, and type 2 diabetes amongst those on plant-based diets.

While long-term vegans report exceptional health, former vegans talk about the decline of their health.

Science is navigating is closer to understanding why people respond differently to the two variations of these two diets with much of the answers based on genetics and gut health.

Our metabolic variation determines whether one thrives or flops on a vegan diet which can also be a factor in the success of a long term keto diet.

What is Veganism: Genetic Factors Driving Success with Veganism

#1 Vitamin A Conversion Efficiency

#2 Gut Microbiome and Vitamin K2 Conversion

#3 Amylase and Starch Tolerance

#4 PEMT Activity and Choline

And this is just an example of why one specific diet might not be suitable for everyone.

The answer lies in our unique genetic code.

#3 Vegan Proteins? (Diet Strategy)

The biggest attack on veganism is the lack of vegan proteins.

As more ask, “what is veganism”, getting vegan proteins is not the greatest challenge with veganism, as we find many complete plant-based protein sources.

There is little doubt the vegan diet leaves some key nutritional holes, and therefore we have nutritional supplements.

And for this reason, an argument a diet is insufficient solely on certain nutrient deficiencies is an incomplete argument, because we can always use a little diet strategy.

These key vegan diet nutrient deficiencies need addressing — If our goal is health optimization and peak performance.

And similarly, with the keto diet, we can use supplements as a diet strategy to cover the deficiencies and still maintain ketosis.

Beyond this, we lose sight of diet strategy.

While some do better on one diet vs the other, why can’t we still apply some winning principles even without adopting the vegan diet or the keto diet 100%?

I don’t well on a 100% keto or carnivore diet, BUT I still follow the overall keto diet principle of ketosis.

I’m a religious coffee and MCT oil drinker, along with doing intermittent fasting and other ketosis increasing supplements.

We can influence ketosis in more ways than solely a strict diet.

Consumption of low or no processed sugar and omega-6s is a worthy goal for all health optimizers.

And these are general principles we can all agree on.

From the plant-based side, dietary fiber supports the gut microbiome, while delivering other benefits.

Mom was always right!

Getting your fill of vegetables or at least some dietary fiber supplements is important.

With the mountain of evidence on dietary fiber spanning decades, we cannot discard the science.

#4 Keto Boost? (Diet Goals?)

When we think diet goals, we often hear the words keto boost thrown around.

Is increasing lifespan the goal?

This might not be the goal of the average health optimizer.

But if it is, then this is a consideration.

If it is not, then our diet goals might be best achieved by using a long- and short-term diet strategy.

We need not be on a strict 100% diet all the time.

We should live a little, right?

If you are doing the keto diet, then maybe a keto boost is what you need.

Mix it up some.

This is how we realize gains in the gym, right?

One of the greatest benefits of intermittent fasting is it still works with a little cheating.

Perfection is nothing short of unrealistic in a realistic world.

Conclusions: Keto Diet vs Vegan Diet, Intermittent Fasting, and Fiber

In the never-ending keto vs vegan diet wars, we have evidence supporting both the keto diet and the vegan diet.

Why not engage in a little strategy instead of an extreme diet?

I am a huge promoter of intermittent fasting.


Because it’s like cheating and almost everyone can easily do it, while it works even with a little cheating.

Check out my tips in an article on intermittent fasting.

Just think about this and how ridiculously powerful this idea is.

It is so simple.

Besides intermittent fasting, let’s embrace the role of dietary fiber, especially for those with mood and cognitive issues.

Fiber is proven to lower all-cause mortality and disease risk.

There is a neat expression from another biohacker: “butyrate can change your life.”

Soluble fiber has an immense benefit above and beyond insoluble fiber.

What we are finding is “viscous” fiber, within the soluble fiber category, delivers even more.

While yes there is an emerging body of evidence suggesting butter can replace fiber, whether it replaces other benefits of fiber remains in question.

Until then, we can find studies going back to the ’80s confirming the value of counting dietary fiber intake.

Interestingly enough, there is a study showing despite massive sugar (complex carbohydrate) intakes, people with type 2 diabetes don’t gain weight or further raise insulin resistance when consuming large amounts of it.

This effect is presumably because of the role of soluble fiber in buffering the otherwise rapid insulin spike from carbohydrates.

The Medjool dates study is maybe the most fascinating dietary study ever done.

The role of soluble fiber in providing and protecting the gut microbiome and the gut barrier is obvious, as this might be the gatekeeper of metabolic health, mood, and cognition.

It doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing approach, and we can take the best parts of both the keto diet and vegan diet.

Like anything else, instead of more keto vs vegan thinking, the truth can sometimes exist in the middle.

And even customizing within a strategy is an acceptable diet strategy.

For instance, I take my supplements and protein and fiber inside my fasting window.


Because it allows me to fast, even longer with ease.

An absolutist take would say I’m violating intermittent fasting, without assigning a compensation for the cost vs benefit.

So don’t be afraid to experiment and make adjustments to your own needs.

How long have you been on your current diet program?

Your Friend in Health

Mark Stein

[Get The Essential 3 Sugars and Fat for Every Health Optimizer]