Vegan Keto Diet: Is a Plant-Based Keto Diet Good for You?

The ketogenic diet is one of the popular weight loss programs available. This is a low-carb and high-fat program that puts your body in a state of ketosis. There’s also the vegan keto diet that swaps out meat, eggs, and dairy, and swaps in plant-based protein like beans.

Vegan Keto Food

Are you vegan? If you don’t eat meat and animal products then it can sometimes be tough to follow certain popular diets that weren’t originally designed for vegetarians or vegans. Fortunately, there are vegan versions of popular diets like the Military Diet and vegan keto diet. The ketogenic diet is low-carb and high-fat. It’s moderate-protein but isn’t vegan-friendly. The good news is there’s a vegan version of this diet that lets you get all your macros from plant-based foods like beans and spinach. This allows you to get your energy from stored fat while not needing to eat beef, pork, or chicken.  

How does this vegan version differ from the original keto diet? In many ways, it’s the same since the ultimate goal is the same. That’s to go low-carb and high-fat. Protein is mid-range but in this version, it’s from plant-based foods instead of meat, eggs, and dairy. There’s even a modified keto diet for vegans. It’s not technically keto because it ups carbs and drops fats. However, it’s still quite low-carb versus other diets and the Standard American Diet (SAD). Another difference is the good fats are from a wide range of foods like avocados, nuts, and plant-based oils. There are still lots of fruits and veggies.

What’s the Keto Diet?

Let’s start with the original ketogenic diet. You might have heard of this diet before and wondered what it’s all about. The diet is a low-carb one but it’s not like many other low-carb diets including Atkins.

Yes, carbs are low but Keto takes it to another level. That’s because it’s also high-fat. How is this possible? We’re not talking about the fat in microwave popcorn or a can of Spam. The keto diet frowns on such processed foods.

In the keto diet, the fat is the healthy kind. The standard keto diet that includes sources like fish, avocados, and olive oil. The vegan version of keto is different since you’re getting all your nutrients from plant-based foods. There’s more on that later.

The keto diet is named after the state of “ketosis” you try to put your body in. Normally we get energy from the calories/carbs in the food we eat. However, in the keto diet, you get your energy from stored fat. It’s the same process as when fasting but in this case, the situation is different. That’s because you’re still getting enough nutrients to avoid side-effects like headaches, dizziness, etc.

During this process, the liver produces something called ketones. Interestingly, this diet was originally used to treat diabetics. Now it’s used for purposes like weight loss and improving overall health.

There are different versions of the keto diet you can follow. For example, one increases protein but it’s still a moderate amount. Another type causes the carbs to spike before workouts. There’s also a vegan version of the keto diet. This is designed for people who don’t eat meat or animal products.

You might have question marks about this keto version. That probably includes the mechanics. Other big issues are whether it works, and if you’ll still get all the nutrients you need.  

What’s the Vegan Keto Diet?

It’s important to note that there’s a difference between vegetarians and vegans. Vegetarians don’t eat meat. However, vegans don’t eat any animal products, which also include dairy and eggs. Some vegans also don’t eat other foods like gelatin that’s made from bones, white sugar since it’s sometimes made using cow bones, or the milk protein casein.

When combining keto and vegan you get a low-carb, high-fat, and plant-based diet. It can be quite tough combining these two diets. That’s because many of the foods used in keto to achieve the low-carb and high-fat are meats. 

When following this keto version, you’ll need to eat:

  • Low carbs
  • Moderate plant-based proteins
  • High plant-based fats

Here are some of the foods you should eat when on this diet:

1. Vegetables

  • Arugula
  • Asparagus
  • Bell peppers
  • Beets
  • Chinese cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Celery
  • Cucumbers
  • Eggplant
  • Kale
  • Lettuce
  • Mushrooms
  • Radishes
  • Spinach
  • Squash
  • Turnips

2. Fruits

  • Avocados
  • Blueberries
  • Coconuts
  • Lemons
  • Olives
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Watermelon

3. Nuts

  • Almonds
  • Brazil nuts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Pecans
  • Walnuts

4. Seeds

  • Chia
  • Pumpkin
  • Sunflower

5. Healthy Oils

  • Almond oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Hazelnut oil
  • Olive oil

6. Nut/Seed Butters

  • Almond butter
  • Coconut butter
  • Hazelnut butter
  • Peanut butter
  • Pecan butter
  • Sunflower seed butter
  • Walnut butter

7. Staples

  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Cheese (dairy-free)
  • Cacao powder
  • Coconut milk
  • Dark chocolate
  • Four (almond, coconut)
  • Herbs/spices
  • Kelp noodles/flakes
  • Pickles
  • Sauerkraut
  • Seaweed (roasted)
  • Sprouts
  • Tofu
  • Yogurt (dairy-free)

8. Forbidden Foods

  • Eggs
  • Fish, chicken, eggs, pork
  • Gelatin
  • Grains
  • High-carb nuts (cashews, pistachios, chestnuts)
  • Milk
  • Potatoes
  • Refined vegetable oils
  • Sugar
  • Trans-fats

One thing to keep in mind with this diet is you shouldn’t just avoid animal products. For example, there are certain options like canola/grapeseed/corn oil and margarine that aren’t animal products but have more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids. The result is they cause more inflammation in the body.

Key Issues for the Vegan Keto Diet 

When following this diet there are some major issues to consider:

1. Protein

This is a general question that vegans generally get. It’s recommended people get 0.7 grams of protein per pound of your target body weight. If you’re weight training, then you should up that figure to 1 pound/body weight. This figure must be your target weight instead of your current weight. 

The keto diet adds another twist. When eating meat, it’s much easier to stay low-carb. However, when swapping in all plant-based food. That makes it tougher since you’ll have to limit all your food choices to low-carb options. It’s more challenging since these foods have more carbs than meat.

There are some outstanding options. One is hemp seeds since you get 30g protein and 8g fiber in just ½ cup. Another option is seitan from wheat. This is another good choice and every 3 oz. includes 18g protein as well as 2g carbs. Tofu is another good option with an 8:1 protein/carb ratio.

You can also go with supplements. That includes protein powders that are vegan-sourced like pea and rice. These are good options with a 5:1 protein: carb ratio. This is an excellent option for athletes and weightlifters.

2. Vegan Substitutes

This is another key issue to consider when following a vegan version of keto. Here are some options:

Food Items

Keto

Vegan Keto

Grains/Starches
  • Tortillas
  • Sandwich bread
  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Oatmeal
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Cereal
  • Waffles/Pancakes
  • Flax tortillas
  • Lettuce wraps
  • Cauliflower rice
  • Zucchini/Shirataki noodles
  • Nooatmeal
  • Flax granola, chia pudding
  • Almond flour waffles
  • Peanut butter pancakes
Dairy
  • Milk
  • Butter
  • Cream
  • Eggs
  • Almond or coconut milk
  • Vegan butter/coconut oil
  • Coconut cream
  • Veggies tofu
Snacks
  • Crackers
  • Chips
  • Chia seed crackers
  • Kale chips
Desserts
  • Brownies
  • Ice cream
  • Macadamia nut, almond flour, avocado
  • Low-carb sorbet, avocado ice cream

These substitutions amp up the vegan keto diet.

Foods To Eat On Vegan Keto Diet

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