The growing mainstream popularity of ketogenic diets over the last few years can be attributed to two major changes in consumer opinions:
- Carbohydrates are the devil’s food
- Fats are no longer the devil’s food
Thanks to this, many on the quest for weight loss found their holy grail – eat the good stuff and still manage to lose those pounds. Keto diets rely on the body using fat for energy rather than carbs. So while people had to give up bread, pasta, rice, fruits, and several vegetables, they were encouraged to eat plenty of high fat and high protein foods. This made keto a diet that relied heavily on meat as the primary food and thus tended to keep away people who didn’t eat meat or animal products, like vegans, or couldn’t eat the amounts that the diet recommended, like vegetarians.
Keto is a pretty strict diet (no cheat days) and can be quite expensive with its emphasis on clean eating (think grass-fed beef and butter, free range eggs, organic veggies). It also calls for a significant amount of time for meal prep.
Since many who wanted to go on keto diets found these guidelines pretty difficult to follow, several flexible variants of the diet emerged, such as dirty keto or lazy keto, which allowed for processed foods that still followed the low-carb, high-fat mantra. Ketotarian is one such variant of the keto diet that is tailored to vegetarians – consumers who may not eat meat but have no issues with eggs and dairy products.
Over the last year, we’ve seen ketotarian diets really take off, particularly as greater options for plant-based meats emerged. Many of these products may not actually call these features out, but they do tend to be low carb. They also come in a range of options, from beef analogs to seafood alternatives – potentially even allowing for strict keto followers to ease into the plant-based lifestyle. And we do expect this to happen, especially as plant-based meats take on more clean label aspects.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 has impacted growth of this trend for the present. But we do expect interest in ketotarian diets to come back swinging in light of consumers looking to take back control of their health and weight in the aftermath of the pandemic.
I’m the CEO & Co-Founder at Spoonshot. Our platform leverages food science and AI to predict consumer needs, F&B trends, and innovation opportunities. We help CPG/FMCG and foodservice companies adopt a data-led, agile, and forward-looking approach to product and menu development.