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What Is the Ketotarian Diet (and Should I Try It)?
Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

Interested in trying the ketogenic diet but put off by all the bacon, cheese and burgers? (Hey, it’s a lot.) Introducing the ketotarian diet—a new take on the trendy eating plan that sounds, well, pretty great. Here’s what you need to know before getting started. 

So, what is it? Created by Dr. Will Cole, the ketotarian diet is a basically a plant-based approach to the standard keto diet. While meat, fish and cheese are still on the menu, these ketogenic diet staples are meant to be eaten in moderation. Instead, the bulk of the ketotarian eating plan is low-carb, plant-based foods like healthy fats (think: avocados and nuts) and non-starchy vegetables (like dark leafy greens).

How is that different from a regular plant-based diet? According to Dr. Cole, many people who want to eat plant-based actually become “carbatarians,” i.e., live off a diet of bread, pasta and other grains, which he says can lead to nutrient deficiencies and inflammation. The ketotarian diet limits these high-carb foods (even legumes should be avoided thanks to their high lectins content) and instead focuses mostly on inflammation-fighting plant foods.

And what are the potential benefits? Similar to the OG low-carb, high-fat and moderate-protein eating plan, one of the goals of the ketotarian diet is to put your body in a state of ketosis, through which you’ll burn through existing stores of fat for energy (thereby leading to faster weight loss). The ketotarian diet also aims to reduce inflammation, which research has shown can boost your overall health. Another selling point? The diet invites vegetarians, vegans and pescatarians to the keto table.

Can I eat bacon and burgers sometimes, though? Yep. Despite its name, the diet isn’t a vegetarian version of keto. After an initial eight-week period of eating purely plant-based, you can then bring meat like grass-fed beef or pasture-raised pork in on occasion (say once or twice a week). 

Sold. What should I make for dinner? We’re glad you asked. Here are 16 ketotarian diet recipes to get you started. Bon appétit.

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