A vegan ketogenic diet is easier than you might think
For vegans it is very common to be asked what they eat, so common, one might say, even annoying. Frankly speaking, after a year of my veganism, I generally tried to avoid situations where I had to talk about it. I really did not want to answer a long list of questions and listen to all “authoritative” views from those who are on the other side. I hadn’t considered it to even be possible to enjoy a vegan ketogenic diet.
But when a vegan hears about the ketogenic diet, he or she would also have to ask themselves all those questions that he or she being asked by others – “What am I going to eat?”. After all, carbohydrates are usually what saves you with a vegan lifestyle or vegan diet. They form the basis of a vegan diet, from fruits, vegetables, grains etc – many of which cannot be consumed on a ketogenic diet.
The ketogenic diet is usually full of animal products such as meat and eggs. Understandably, this leaves many vegans with the question “How can a vegan adopt a ketogenic diet when it is usually full of meat and butter?”.
Well, I’m here to tell you it does not really matter if you are a vegan or vegetarian, you can always and absolutely achieve ketosis and enjoy the benefits of a vegan ketogenic diet.
Read on as we will soon be discussing the main principles of a vegan ketogenic diet and showing you the easiest way to achieve ketosis as a vegan.
So how can I enjoy a vegan ketogenic diet?
A ketogenic diet is a diet that is high in fat, low in carbohydrates, and has a moderate level of protein. Veganism, on the other hand, is a practice that sees the consumption of any kind of animal products by humans as unethical behavior. It tries to solve the issues of animal suffering, climate change, and other health-related issues. A vegan diet is a high in carbs diet.
However, it is possible to avoid carbs, and it can be done without compromising our beloved body or ethics. The main rule for a vegan ketogenic diet is no different to any. other ketogenic diet – to eat the right amount of protein and healthy fats. Fats for the vegan ketogenic diet can be derived from nuts, seeds, avocado and coconut oil – there is a huge variety of foods available. You will find a full vegan keto diet food list a little further below for your convenience.
It is also important to reduce the amount of carbs to around 50 grams a day, rather than the more hard-core keto dieters who aim for 0 – 20 grams; otherwise we will not be able to eat enough nuts and seeds.
In a keto diet the main source of energy is fat. Vegan lifestyle does not prohibit the use of vegetable fats. Here we can use our imagination and choose what is the best for our taste buds, like olive oil, flax or coconut oil. And there is a great thing called almond flour, or almond meal, which is also a plant in origin, so using it you can prepare a lot of different dietary dishes.
The only thing that will be difficult on a vegan ketogenic diet, especially at the beginning, is the calculation. To be a vegan on a ketogenic diet you may need to constantly count the amount of carbohydrates and proteins that you eat every day. Using a free app like MyFitnessPal can really help with this, but hopefully by the time you’ve read this article, we will have made it super simple for you to follow a vegan ketogenic diet!
Also, do not forget to pay attention to the very important element iron. It is very hard to consume iron on a vegan ketogenic diet and the lack of iron as we know leads to anemia. You can obtain iron on a ketogenic diet from seaweed, pumpkin seeds, tomato paste, spinach and soybeans, as well as almost all leafy green vegetables.
Following a Moderate Vegan Ketogenic Diet
A moderate vegan ketogenic diet will help you, in the best ways, to maintain a diet that will help you lose or maintain weight, become as healthy as possible, and also protect our environment.
The following six rules must be followed to implement a correct vegan ketogenic diet:
- Your total carbohydrate consumption should not be more than 50 grams per day.
- Eliminate all meat, fish, and other animal products from your diet. Instead of meat, cheese, and dairy, you can have foods like:
- Tofu, Tempeh, Seitan, and other high-protein vegan “meats.”
- Vegan egg substitutes
- Coconut milk and other varieties of nut milk
- Coconut cream
- Coconut yogurt and other varieties of nut-based yogurt
- Vegan cheese
- Vegan protein powders
- Plant-based oils like coconut oil, avocado oil, MCT oil, red palm oil, etc.
- High-protein nuts and seed
- Consume plenty of low-carb vegetables.
- Get at least 70% of your calories from plant-based fats.
- Make sure about 25% of your calories are from plant-based proteins.
- Supplement with nutrients that you may not be getting enough of.
You can Consider eating these foods:
- Spinach, Kale, Spring Mixes, Collard Greens, Swiss Chard, etc
- Mushrooms, Zucchini, Asparagus, Broccoli, Cauliflower, etc
- Almonds, Brazil Nuts, Macadamia Nuts, Hazelnuts, Pecans, etc
- Chia Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Sesame Seeds, Flaxseed, Hemp Seeds, etc
- Tempeh, Tofu, Seitan, Quote, etc
- Raspberries, Blackberries, Strawberries, etc
- Coconut Yoghurt, Almond Milk, Coconut Milk, Coconut Cream, Vegan Cheese, etc
- Almond Butter, Coconut Butter, Sunflower Seed Butter, etc
- Stevia, Erythritol, etc
- Coconut Oil, Avocado Oil, Olive Oil, Sesame Oil, etc
Avoid eating the foods below while you are on the vegan ketogenic diet:
- Grains – wheat, corn, rice, cereal, etc.
- Legumes — kidney beans, lentils, black beans, peas, etc.
- Sugar – golden syrup, honey, agave, maple syrup, etc.
- High carb fruits – apples, bananas, oranges, etc.
- Tubers – potato, yams, etc.
It is important to note that no matter the efforts you put into following the vegan ketogenic diet, it will mean nothing if you don’t get the consumption of nutrients like carbohydrates, fats, and proteins right.
Looking for specific information on the vegan ketogenic diet? Use the links below to jump to the information you’re looking for:
Vegan ketogenic diet food lists.
Alternatives to non-vegan products.
Vegan ketogenic diet food list
Chances are you’re on this post looking specifically for a comprehensive vegan ketogenic diet food list, so here it is. First we start with the most important element of a ketogenic diet, fats.
Vegan ketogenic diet fats
Avocado, fruit and oil
Flax seed oil (aka linseed oil)
Peanut butter (Organic with no added dairy)
How to include fats in a vegan ketogenic diet
Some people may have no issue with eating loads of whole avocado and macadamia nuts as their main source of nourishment. However, for most this may be difficult and likely to get boring fast. The key to getting enough of the above good fats is to use oils as a dressing for things like leafy greens (spinach, collards). 100g (3 cups) of spinach only contains around 25 kcal, 3 grams of carbs, and also contains 3 grams of protein. Add 100 grams of tofu (76 kcal, 2g carbs, 8g protein) and 2 tablespoons of olive oil (240 kcal, 30g fat, 0g protein and carbs). That’s a decent, healthy and filling meal containing a total of around 350 kcal, 30g fat, 11g protein and 5g carbs. That’s a macronutrient ratio of about 75% from fat, 20% from protein and 5% from carbs – considered to be more or less perfect for any ketogenic diet!
Vegan ketogenic diet protein
Textured vegetable protein – just check for additives which may contain carbs!
Protein powder – most big supplement stores will stock vegan protein powders!
Vegan ketogenic diet vegetables
Most vegetables are okay on a ketogenic diet but should usually have plenty of fats added. This helps to feel full and nourished without risking too many carbs. We’ll start first with a list of acceptable keto diet vegetables.
Vegetables to include in a vegan ketogenic diet
VEGETABLE – SERVING SIZE – NET CARBS
Alfalfa sprouts (raw) – 1/2 cup – 0
Chicory greens (raw) – 1/2 cup – .1
Endive (raw) – 1/2 cup – .1
Escarole (raw) – 1/2 cup – .1
Olives, green – 5, each – .1
Watercress (raw) – 1/2 cup – .1
Arugula (raw) – 1/2 cup – .2
Radishes (raw) – 1, each – .2
Spinach (raw) – 1/2 cup – .2
Bok choy (cooked) – 1/2 cup – .4
Lettuce, average (raw) – 1/2 cup – .5
Turnip greens (cooked) – 1/2 cup – .6
Heart of palm – 1 each – .7
Olives, black – 5, each – .7
Radicchio (raw) – 1/2 cup – .7
Button mushroom (raw) – 1/2 cup – .8
Artichoke (marinated) – 1, each – 1
Celery (raw) – 1 stalk – 1
Collard greens (cooked) – 1/2 cup – 1
Pickle, dill – 1, each – 1
Spinach – 1/2 cup – 1
Broccoli rabe (cooked) – 1/2 cup – 1.2
Sauerkraut (drained) – 1/2 cup – 1.2
Avocado, Hass – 1/2 fruit – 1.3
Daikon radish, grated (raw) – 1/2 cup – 1.4
Red/white onion, chopped (raw) – 2 TBSP – 1.5
Zucchini (cooked) – 1/2 cup – 1.5
Cucumber, sliced (raw) – 1/2 cup – 1.6
Cauliflower (cooked) – 1/2 cup – 1.7
Beet greens (cooked) – 1/2 cup – 1.8
Broccoli (cooked) – 1/2 cup – 1.8
Fennel (raw) – 1/2 cup – 1.8
Okra (cooked) – 1/2 cup – 1.8
Rhubarb (raw) – 1/2 cup – 1.8
Swiss chard (cooked) – 1/2 cup – 1.8
Asparagus (cooked) – 6 stalks – 1.9
Broccolini (cooked) – 3, each – 1.9
Bell pepper, green, chopped (raw) – 1/2 cup – 2.2
Sprouts, mung beans (raw) – 1/2 cup – 2.2
Eggplant (cooked) – 1/2 cup – 2.3
Kale (cooked) – 1/2 cup – 2.4
Scallion, chopped (raw) – 1/2 cup – 2.4
Turnip (cooked) – 1/2 cup – 2.4
Tomato, small (raw) – 1, each – 2.5
Jicama (raw) – 1/2 cup – 2.6
Portobello mushroom (cooked) – 1, each – 2.6
Yellow squash (cooked) – 1/2 cup – 2.6
Cabbage (cooked) – 1/2 cup – 2.7
Green beans (cooked) – 1/2 cup – 2.9
Bell pepper, red, chopped (raw) – 1/2 cup – 3
Leeks (cooked) – 2 TBSP – 3.4
Shallot, chopped (raw) – 2 TBSP – 3.4
Brussel sprouts (cooked) – 1/2 cup – 3.5
Spaghetti squash (cooked) – 1/2 cup – 4
Cherry tomato – 10, each – 4.6
Kohlrabi (cooked) – 1/2 cup – 4.6
Pumpkin, mashed (cooked) – 1/2 cup – 4.7
Garlic, minced (raw) – 2 TBSP – 5.3
Snow peas (cooked) – 1/2 cup – 5.4
Tomato (cooked) – 1/2 cup – 8.6
You should be eating approximately 12 to 15 grams of net carbs per day in the form of vegetables, which is equivalent to several cups depending on the actual carb content of the veggies you select.
Vegetables to avoid on a vegan ketogenic diet
Legumes (not technically a vegetable, but high carb and worth noting here)
Vegan ketogenic diet nuts and seeds
Cashews (a little higher carb, be careful not to over-consume)
Alternatives to non-vegan products
Vegan ketogenic diet milk alternatives
Ensure when buying vegan milk alternatives that you buy the unsweetened variety, as the sweetened milks will contain a lot of sugar which is not good for a vegan ketogenic diet.
Vegan ketogenic diet egg alternatives
The trick to making each of these similar to egg varies between each product. Some are ideal as a vegan egg replacement in baked goods, others (such as silken tofu) can be used for scrambled or even fried eggs.
See the video below for a beginner’s guide to vegan egg alternatives that are suitable for a vegan ketogenic diet.
Vegan ketogenic diet meat alternatives
Tofurkey meat alternative (found in most major supermarkets)
TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein)
Beans, lentils, chickpeas
Just like vegan egg alternatives, the meat alternatives may require some manipulation before they will resemble real meat. There are ready made products such as Tofurkey products, but making them yourself will almost always provide a much more delicious vegan ketogenic diet meat alternative, as well as being healthier.
See the video below for a beginner’s guide to vegan meat alternatives that are suitable for a vegan ketogenic diet.
Vegan ketogenic diet cheese and yogurt alternatives.
There are quite a large number of vegan cheese and yogurt alternatives on the market these days and the list keeps growing and growing at an exponential rate! In fact, just recently I walked into my local Cruelty Free Shop and found that they stock 3 entire fridges full of nothing but different vegan cheeses, and, surprisingly, they’re similar in macronutrient content to dairy cheeses making them mostly suitable for a vegan ketogenic diet too!
Just as with vegan meat alternatives, the cheese alternatives can easily be made at home which will save you a lot of money but provide a fun (and tasty) hobby. And unlike dairy cheeses that can take months to mature, vegan cheeses are almost always ready to eat within hours. You can also make large batches of vegan ketogenic diet cheeses and freeze them to use throughout the weeks!
See the video below for a beginner’s guide to vegan cheese alternatives that are suitable for a vegan ketogenic diet.
See the video below for a beginner’s guide to vegan yogurt alternatives that are suitable for a vegan ketogenic diet.
Vegan Ketogenic Diet Supplements
Recommended supplements for a vegan ketogenic diet
When it comes to supplementation, the same thing applies to both vegan and non-vegans, as well as ketogenic dieters and non-ketogenic dieters. You only need to supplement if you’re having trouble getting enough of something via diet alone.
That being said, most of us don’t eat a balanced enough diet to get all the essential nutrients we need and although this is mostly harmless, there are a couple of things I recommend everybody take, no matter what your diet is like.
One of the most common arguments meat-eaters make against vegans is something along the lines of “Vitamin B12 can only be found in meat, so you’re going to die if you don’t eat meat”. The thing is, despite being called a vitamin, B12 is actually a bacteria found in soil and feces. Our ancestors would have most likely eaten almost entirely from the earth – plants straight from the soil. And without the tools and facilities required to thoroughly wash those plants, much of the soil and the B12 found in that soil would have been consumed naturally, daily.
In essence, B12 doesn’t “come from the meat.” Rather it’s found in the meat due to the fact that the animals are eating in the way nature intended – plants straight from the soil. As the B12 in meat is a filtered, second-hand nutrient (much like animal protein which is actually the plant protein ingested by the animal and stored in its body), the meat industry cleverly fortifies meat with additional B12 so it can wrongfully wear the crown of “best source of B12”.
Unfortunately for vegans these days, plants found in supermarkets and the like are mostly cleaned so thoroughly that none of the B12 would remain. Sure, you can eat some potatoes with the dirt still on them, but it’s not particularly pleasant for our modern day tastes. Realistically I believe everyone should be taking a B12 supplement, regardless of whether you’re on a vegan ketogenic diet, or normal vegan diet or a meat eaters diet, as almost none of us get enough of B12 anyway!
See the video below for a more scientific explanation of what B12 is and where it comes from:
Unless you’re having your blood tested regularly with every macro and micronutrient counted, you’re not likely going to know if you’re not getting a sufficient amount of everything until one day some serious symptoms start to show. It’s not required for most of us, but I still recommend a daily multivitamin just to help cover some bases for the less obvious nutrients, like selenium.
Vegan ketogenic diet bodybuilding and fitness supplements
A common misconception is that as a vegan, you will have trouble reaching your protein requirements daily. Well, most studies have found that your body can only actually use about 30 grams of protein within a single meal and the actual protein requirements of most people who aren’t super-athletes is a lot lower than bodybuilding supplement companies would want you to believe. So, if you’re eating your beans and soy on a vegan ketogenic diet, you’re likely getting enough, maybe even more than protein for muscle repair and growth anyway.
But if you’re someone who likes a good protein shake whether for the satiety as a meal replacement, or just to be on the safe side when you’re taking your training seriously, there’s some good options on a vegan ketogenic diet for you.
Pea protein powder
Hemp protein powder
Soy protein powder
On top of protein powders, you can also include some BCAA’s, Creatine and Pre/Post Workout drinks to give you more of an edge on your training.
Here’s a great video from a vegan bodybuilder who shows you all of the supplements he takes for maximum performance, all of which are suitable on a vegan ketogenic diet.
A meal plan sample of vegan ketogenic diet
Breakfast: High-Fiber Cereal with Fruit
Lunch: Spicy Black Bean Soup with a Green Salad
Snack: Vegetable Spring Rolls Wrapped in Romaine Lettuce with a Spicy Peanut Sauce
Dinner: Spinach Pie with Walnut Crust. Serve with a Vegetable Salad
Dessert: Red Grape Truffles with an Almond Crust
You can use this template to create a long-term Vegan Keto meal plan for yourself.
I hope you have seen through this guide that the vegan ketogenic lifestyle is 100% achievable. Though it can be quite limiting but you can still achieve it. Your body will have to get used to the new regimen after going through a short period of transition.
To maintain a vegan ketogenic diet, you just have to become familiar with the correct calculation for each type of meal you take. You can search online for visual cues for portion control that will help you stay on track.
Thank you, this was so helpful! I’ve done a ketogenic diet before, but never as a vegan. I almost thought it was impossible! Now I feel empowered to try….thanks!
I’m glad Natalia’s experience has inspired you! Please let me know how you go! I have quite a number of friends who are vegan who I’m sure would love to hear your own experience 🙂
I’ve done the a vegan keto diet for almost 3 years now. I’m a distance runner, powerifter, and CrossFit competitor. I’ve also used the keto diet lifestyle (as a vegan) to compete in bikini competitions. Know that you should never compromise your morals for a diet, and that anything is possible with enough trial/error/experimentation/ and research. I hope you had good results with a vegan keto diet. I know my body functions best on keto and was so glad to have transitioned into it a few years ago, while still staying vegan (I had been for over 15 years at the time). I’m currently pregnant and still keto, so it can be done
I am vegan since 2004.
For many years I have seemingly ate “good” however I have gained an embarrassing 27 lbs!
I only just learned of this diet and will be starting asap! My downfalls are wine and —gasp–potato chips! Would appreciate any advice .
Thanks for this incredible information
The thing with being vegan doing keto is that the obvious choice in terms of macros with keto is meats. To be vegan and do keto requires a little (not much) more effort in food choices.
Leafy greens and other fibrous plant matter are usually so low in calories that you could eat as much as you can fit in and never consume enough carbs to come out of ketosis. To keep your calories at a healthy level, you need to keep the fats up with avocado, plant based oils and nuts including sugar free peanut butter. You should also aim for soy based proteins (tofu, tempeh etc) to maintain lean muscle tissue!
I feel your pain on the cheat foods. I always have a beer after work, sometimes a couple. I just really love beer! If I could give that up I would probably have that coveted six pack (the other kind that isn’t beer) but you have to balance watching your diet with enjoying your life since you only get one!
Would I still be able to lose weight doing 50 grams a day? I started doing 20 grams a day but find it very difficult to add the amount of protein that I need.
Would really appreciate any feed back.
For most people up to 100g a day of carbs can be little enough to remain in ketosis. It varies for everyone but if you get some ketostix from your local pharmacy / chemist and test yourself at 20g then gradually increase by 20g a day until you no longer show signs of ketones, you can find the sweet spot for you.
I’m curious though – most protein sources for me have little to no carbs at all. What were your protein sources that were causing your carbs to go too high?
Thanks for the good imput. Im interested in maintaing muscle mass through adequate protein intake such as tempeh or natto, where it gets confusing for me, is opinions on the sources of fats. Is hummus a biable source?
Very interesting read! It’s funny how the plant-based diet is often considered restrictive but there are so many variations and combinations you can try. Veganism is actually so amazingly diverse with just a little imagination and effort. Thanks for sharing!
Can you recommend a VEGAN KETO Cooking Book without unfermented soybean products (tofu, tempeh, nato are ok!) as soy milk, soy flower etc.
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