Plant-Based Nutrition

A Vegan Keto Diet: Is it Possible?

Written by Hannah W.

The ketogenic diet, or keto diet as it is more commonly known, is a popular lifestyle choice among those trying to lose weight.

The premise is relatively simple. It’s a low-carb, high-fat diet mixed with moderate amounts of protein.

Jumping on this lifestyle to see if it works for your weight loss goals is totally doable, but what if you are a vegan? Is it possible to accomplish a vegan keto diet?

I will dive into all the nitty-gritty details to help guide anyone looking to achieve a vegan keto diet, from what the keto diet is, to what foods a vegan keto dieter can eat.

I am here to help you make an easy vegan keto diet transition if that’s what you want!

What Is a Keto Diet?

As mentioned above, the keto diet incorporates a low carb, high-fat diet mixed with moderate amounts of protein.

As a general rule of thumb for a keto diet macro ratio, and I do mean general because each body is different and the keto diet can be catered towards anyone’s needs, is as follows:

A chart showing the macro percentage breakdown for keto

  • High Fat: 70-75% (total calories from diet)
  • Moderate Protein: 20-25% (total calories from diet)
  • Low Carbohydrate: 5% (total calories from diet)

This macro ratio forces the body to go into a metabolic state known as ketosis which is when the body uses ketones made from the liver as fuel for the body instead of glucose. Uhhh, say what again?

Basically, your body is burning fat for energy instead of storing fat! In other words, your energy source comes from fat rather than carbs.

Pretty sweet, right?

Is a Vegan Keto Diet Possible?

A woman slicing vegetables

Is it possible to accomplish a vegan keto diet?

In short, yes! It is possible to have a vegan keto diet, but it takes a little more know-how and practice to maintain both a vegan diet and a keto diet.

Maintaining a vegan keto lifestyle requires a low-carb diet. Fruits and vegetables contain carbs and are a staple for vegans, so how can these two things coexist?

Below outlines how vegans can eat whole foods, avoid animal products, and achieve a vegan keto diet.

How to Achieve a Vegan Keto Diet

As a vegan, what can one eat to achieve a vegan keto diet? Ok ok, so this is where it gets a little more complicated, but good news for you because I did all the hard work for you!

I have broken it down into a few sections.

What you should avoid on a vegan keto diet, what you can eat on a vegan keto diet, what substitutions can be made, and what to drink!

Foods to avoid on a vegan keto diet

Pasta, oats and rice

A traditional keto diet incorporates higher amounts of fat, moderate protein, and low carbs. To achieve this on a vegan keto diet, one must make a few changes.

Below is a list of foods to avoid on a vegan keto diet. These foods are sometimes ok-ed on a traditional keto diet, but not on a vegan keto diet.

Sugar and starchy foods

Starchy foods such as potatoes should be avoided. Yes, in the general sense it is vegan-friendly, but it contains high amounts of carbs and sugars and is therefore not friendly for the keto diet or the vegan keto diet. Avoiding sugary foods is also a good idea because your body will want to use the glucose for energy and a keto diet uses fat for energy.

Meat

This is a bit of a no-brainer if you are familiar with veganism. Vegans avoid eating animal products and well… that’s exactly what meat is! This includes fish, beef, lamb, poultry, and pig. So don’t eat it if you are going vegan.

Dairy products

Usually, dairy products in the keto world are a great source to get enough calories from fats, but like meat, vegans avoid dairy products because these products come from animals! Surprise surprise! Dairy products to avoid include hard and soft cheeses (ok all cheeses!), cream, butter, yogurt, and milk.  

Other animals products

Eggs are a great protein source for keto dieters, but not so great for vegan keto dieters because it’s yet again an animal product. Other animal products to avoid on the vegan keto diet are gelatin and whey protein.

Grains

These contain high amounts of carbohydrates and will easily hurt your macro count while trying to maintain ketosis. Grains are out for both a keto diet and a vegan keto diet, so don’t feel like only vegans are being targeted here. Try to avoid are rice, wheat, barley, corn,… ok ok. If it’s a grain, just avoid it. All grains are out! This includes grain products. Yes, I’m talking about you pasta and cereal… and beloved bread!

Foods to eat on a vegan keto diet

A sliced avocado

Starting with foods to avoid can always seem a little depressing, but stick with me because I promise there is so much a vegan keto dieter can eat! Don’t panic yet because below are approved foods for the vegan keto diet.

Leafy greens 

Spinach, kale, lettuce, swiss chard, herbs, and collard greens are all included in this category! If it’s green, leafy, and a vegetable you can have it!

Above ground vegetables: This list would be quite large but some of the best vegetables are broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, green beans, zucchini, squash, eggplant, and cucumber. Vegetables do have carbs and some vegetables have more carbs than others so be mindful! The best way to stay within your carb limit is to portion your food. Even vegetables need to be portioned to reach your macros!

Nuts and seeds

Macadamias, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and peanuts are just a few options available. Most all nuts and seeds are fair game so find the ones you love and incorporate them into your diet! Just be careful to not over do it. Like all diets, still watch for the calorie count and macros because nuts and seeds do contain carbs and some contain more carbs than others i.e. cashews.

Fruits

Berries such as raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, and blueberries work for a vegan keto diet in moderation. Again, portion your food and you will be fine. Fruits tend to have a higher glycemic index meaning they contain sugar and carbs. If you are trying to maintain a low carb diet, then fruits just need to be monitored more, that’s all! One of the best fruits you can eat is the avocado! It’s high in fat and low in sugar; a perfect combo for the vegan keto diet! If you don’t like avocados, maybe consider olives! They too have a great fat source and are low in sugar. So eat either one or better yet, both!

Sweeteners

Sweeteners can be tricky because of their sugar and carb profile. Low carb sweetener options include stevia, monk fruit, and erythritol.

Food substitutions for a vegan keto diet

Tofu and veggies

Because vegans don’t eat animal products, a few limitations are placed on the vegan keto diet. Fats and proteins for the keto diet often come from many animal products. No fear though, below is a list of great substitutions to make sure vegans are staying vegan while also meeting their nutritional goals with fats, proteins, and carbs.

Meat

Getting enough protein with the vegan keto diet may seem like a concern, but it shouldn’t be! Meat is a go-to protein source for the keto diet, but as mentioned before, vegans DON’T EAT ANIMAL PRODUCTS. So what’s the solution?

  • Beans
  • Legumes
  • Tempeh
  • Tofu
  • IdealRaw Organic Protein

These sources are vegan-friendly and high in protein! They will help any vegan on the keto diet reach their protein needs. Again be careful on the carb count. Carbs, are everywhere, right?? Beans, legumes, tempeh, and tofu all have carbs, but if you portion and stay mindful, it will be manageable.

Butter

Have you ever heard of vegan butter? Guess what, it exists! Vegan butter can be made from several different sources; nuts, vegetable oils, and coconut oils. The most common vegan butter is made from vegetable oils and it can be found at most local grocery stores. The product itself will label right on the container that it’s vegan orrr you will have to read the ingredients. The latter is a slower process, but it works. Two well known vegan butter producers are Earth Balance and Nutiva, but there are plenty of other producers so don’t feel like you are pigeonholed into these two options. They are just a great place to start!

Milk

Almond milk, coconut milk, hemp milk, soy milk, rice milk, and cashew milk are all great substitutes for cow’s milk. These substitutes contain vitamins and minerals that our body needs while also fitting well into the keto diet. With any one of these substitutes, the best option is to drink the unsweetened version because it contains fewer calories and carbs. Those sneaky carbs are everywhere so the unsweetened versions can minimize the stress of taking in too many carbs. Quick note – If you are watching and counting your carbs, you aren’t limited to the unsweetened version.

Starchy foods

Potatoes and other starches are no friend to the keto diet, so instead of filling up on starchy foods, substitute it for cauliflower. It’s a low carb vegetable that has the versatility you wouldn’t believe. It can easily replace recipes that call for potatoes and rice.  

What to drink on a vegan keto diet

A pitcher of water being poured out into a glass

We have gone over what you can and can’t eat, but what about what to drink? Many drinks can contain high carbs or include animal sources that null your vegan lifestyle. When it comes to drinks, the safest and best choice is always water! It keeps you hydrated and with no fats, carbs, or protein, you can have as much as you want! Score!

Water can get a little boring though, so if that’s the case, mix it up with tea or coffee. Just be sure to watch the amount of added sweeteners. They can easily and quickly throw your macro count off if one’s not careful… so hopefully you like unsweetened tea or coffee! Or you use the sweeteners listed above.

Substitutes for milk, such as various nut milks, are also a great choice to drink, but again, choose the unsweetened option or be careful with the sweeteners added because they add more carbs and will throw your vegan keto diet off. If you stick within your daily limit though, you will be fine. Just be sure to read the labels and see how you can incorporate it into your day!

Final thoughts

Are you convinced that a vegan keto diet is in fact possible? Because it is! A simple take away to achieve this diet is to be a low carb vegan. A vegan should avoid those tempting grains because they are a huge carb culprit. Remember, a vegan keto diet requires a few basic rules.

  1. Eat plenty of plant-based fats (nuts, oils, avocado, olives, vegan butter)
  2. Eat plant-based proteins (Beans, legumes, tempeh, tofu, IdealRaw Organic Protein)
  3. Eat a small number of carbohydrates

These rules will help any vegan achieve a vegan keto diet! I hope this gives you the tools you need to be successful and feel confident that you too can transition to a keto diet while also going vegan.

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