Hi Shannon, this is a great question that many people have with the Keto Diet. I will try my best to answer each of your questions and concerns.
First of all, any type of diet (restrictive eating) is difficult long term, because you are being restricted, which therefore will cause you to feel deprived at times and have intensified cravings. Because of this, any diet is difficult to maintain long-term. The greater the change the diet is for you, the more difficult it will be for you to maintain. For example, if you are used to a higher carb diet, and have come to love fruits and whole grains, a keto diet would be more difficult for you to keep long term than if you were coming from a diet that was already low in grains and fruit. The fact that you are not much of a meat eater, probably means that you do enjoy more whole grains and fruits to fill your diet.
Is Keto healthy? I have yet to see research that states that Keto is unhealthy, BUT if you are only doing a partial keto (i.e. keto for most meals until you really have a carb craving), that can result in a less healthy very high saturated fat diet. Eating a high saturated fat diet with moderate or high carbs can be a potentially harmful environment, therefore as a Registered Dietitian, I always tell clients to opt for lean meats and choose fats from nuts and seeds (eaing Keto and not Keto, opt for the healthy fats). Some research shows that certain people actually have an increase in inflammation markers from a higher dairy and fat diet (such as Keto), SO I would do your bloodwork and do a cholesterol work up with your doctor before starting a Keto diet. That way you also have the ability to see if a keto diet positively or negatively affects your health.
Is Keto a healthy option to lose weight? Keto can be a fine option for losing weight. Definitely know that the majority of the large weight loss in the beginning is mostly from water weight, so yes, when you eat carbs again, that water weight will return. But switching to fat for your body's source of fuel decreases your appetite because the hunger hormone Ghrelin is reduced. A decreased appetite is a great benefit from a Keto eating approach that will help ignite your weight loss.
If you find that it is very hard to loose weight when you are eating carbohydrates, I have put some of my clients on a healthier/modified Keto approach in the beginning as a jump start, then ease lower glycemic carbs back into their diet. Therefore you could use Keto as a jumpstart, then slowly add back healthy carbs into you diet (you can email me if you'd like me to help you with this: email@example.com).
When you have lost the weight you want with Keto, I would not jump back to a full-fledged carb diet. You have to be gradual as you add carbs back in, and do not fret when you see a little water weight gain.
Keto for someone who is not a big meat eater. There are many healthy fat sources that are not animals such as nuts, seeds, avocados, and certain oils such as avocado oil, olive oil, and a little coconut oil. 70-75% of your diet is made up of fat, 20% is from protein, and about 5% is from carbs when eating Keto, but you do not HAVE to consume meats to attain those ratios. The downside though is that you may feel that you are only eating a couple of go-to foods, which will most likely get very old and tiresome.
Takeaway: Moderation is key. I believe that eating a lower carb diet that allows you access to all major food groups is a great approach for long term success. This approach will also allow you to have much greater satisfaction even if the weight loss is not quite as fast in the beginning (like with a Keto due/to water weight loss). If you feel that you do not metabolize carbs well, you could jumpstart our eating with a greatly reduced carb diet at first. When you do eat meat or dairy, keep to lower fat and eat the majority of your fats from nuts, seeds, and avocados. For easier weight loss, increase the fiber in your diet, especially from high-volume, nutrient-dense vegetables. Limit refined flours and/or sugar, and treat a sweet tooth with natural sugars such as the sugar from fruits. A modest lower carb diet can help with blood sugar, mood control, and an easier time with to make weight loss sustainable.
A Keto diet can work, and I have some clients who enjoy eating Keto. For these clients, Keto is easy because they feel they don't have to watch their calories as closely and if allows them to eat a lot of great fatty foods that they usually wouldn't be able too. Keto also reduces appetite, AND it is relatively easy to stick to Keto when eating out. Keto may work for you, I know it works for some people very well, BUT Keto is a highly restrictive diet therefore extremely hard to maintain if you are used to eating a higher carb diet. After underoing a Kedo diet, you may ask yourself; "why am I doing this??" If your only answer is weight loss, they may not be enough motivation to keep you going strong. If this happens to you, do not blame yourself, just realize it was not the right fit. We can work together and figure out the game plan that works for you. Also when eating a keto diet, when you go back to carbs, you may alter's your body's ability to metabolize carbs, and you will regain water weight.
Hopefully that is helpful for you. Great question and I wish you and your family the best with the upcoming wedding. As always, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.