Vegan Keto Diet: For Guilt-Free, And Healthy Living

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A close-up of a vegan bowl filled with tofu, lettuce, and other veggies.

Overview | Vegan Alternatives | Benefits | Challenges | Tips To Limit Carbs | Supplements | Precautions | 7-Day Diet Plan

The traditional keto diet is a low-carb diet with more high-fat and high-protein foods. This diet has been known to promote weight loss and improve cognitive function and overall health.

But the equation changes if you are a vegan. All the animal products that can easily provide the proteins and fats required on a keto diet are out of the question. Is it still possible to follow a protein-focused, high-fat, keto diet?

The answer is yes.

Overview of a vegan keto diet

A vegan keto diet is a plant-based diet that follows the principles of a ketogenic diet while eliminating all animal products as per the ethics of veganism. [1]Vegan Society: The foundations of ethical veganism

The basic keto diet aims to induce ketosis, [2]Cleveland Clinic: Ketosis a metabolic state in which the body burns fat for energy instead of carbohydrates. This is done by massively restricting carb intake.

In a vegan keto diet, you follow the keto diet macros by consuming only plant-based food. This means that you’ll get your fat and protein from vegetables, nuts, seeds, and oils rather than from meat, eggs, and dairy. 

Nutritional requirements of a vegan keto diet

A vegan keto diet combines two specific diet forms: the vegan diet and the keto diet. Consequently, anyone looking to go on a vegan keto diet needs to know the nutritional parameters of both diets. Here is a basic split-up:

Keto diet: The macros for a basic keto diet for weight loss are as follows:

  • Fats: 75%
  • Proteins: 20%
  • Carbohydrates: 5%

Vegan diet: Unlike the ketogenic diet, the vegan diet is not a weight-loss-oriented dietary practice. Consequently, there are no macronutrient specifications for anyone on a vegan or a vegan keto diet. The only cardinal rule to follow is to consume a strictly plant-based diet.

Foods to eat on a vegan keto diet

  1. Proteins: Seitan, tofu, tempeh, edamame, lentils, black beans, quinoa, nutritional yeast, etc.
  2. Fats: Avocado oil, nuts and seeds, nut butters, coconut oil, full-fat coconut milk, olives, etc.
  3. Carbohydrates: Low-carb vegetables such as mushrooms, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, kale, etc. Low-carb and low-sugar fruits like avocado, lemons, berries, etc.

Foods to avoid on a vegan keto diet

Here is a broad list of foods that you must avoid on a vegan keto diet:

  1. Animal-based foods: Meats, seafood, poultry, dairy, honey, etc.
  2. Complex carbs: Starchy vegetables like potatoes and sweet potatoes. Carb-rich fruits like bananas and apples are also not allowed on a vegan keto diet.
  3. Sugars: Plant-based or otherwise, all forms of sugars are excluded from the vegan keto diet. Therefore, honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, coconut sugar, and all other forms of sugar are to be avoided while on a vegan keto diet.
  4. Sugary or carb-rich beverages: This includes all sugary fruit juices, sports drinks, seltzers, sodas, and energy drinks. High-carb alcohol like beer, sweetened wine, and cocktails should also be avoided.
  5. Processed foods: Other processed plant-based foods like breads, pastas, cereals, crackers, and desserts should also be avoided on a vegan keto diet.

Vegan alternatives to common ketogenic diet staples

Ketogenic diet is predominantly animal-based with small amounts of plant-based foods. As a result, it can be very difficult to follow a vegan ketogenic diet. 

However, there are some plant-based alternatives to common animal-based ketogenic diet staples. These can make following a vegan ketogenic diet easier.

  • Alternatives to egg: Chia seeds, flaxseed meal, aquafaba, tofu.
  • Alternatives to dairy: Full-fat vegan milk like almond milk, coconut milk, or soy milk, vegan butter, vegan cheese, vegan cream cheese, vegan sour cream.
  • Alternatives to meat: Seitan, tempeh, tofu, portobello mushrooms, lentils, beans.
  • Alternatives to fish: Tofu, tempeh, seitan, portobello mushrooms.

Benefits of a vegan keto diet

The vegan keto diet combines the benefits of two healthy eating styles—vegan and ketogenic diet. When followed correctly, a vegan keto diet can offer a number of health benefits, including:

  1. Weight loss [3]PubMed: Effect of a 6-month vegan low-carbohydrate (‘Eco-Atkins’) diet on cardiovascular risk factors and body weight in hyperlipidaemic adults: a randomised controlled trial
  2. Reduced risk of chronic diseases
  3. Improved blood sugar control
  4. Reduced inflammation
  5. Cardiovascular benefits
  6. Increased energy levels
  7. Improved cognitive health [4]Harvard Health Publishing School: Ketogenic diet: Is the ultimate low-carb diet good for you?

Challenges of going on a vegan ketogenic diet

A vegan ketogenic diet is one of the most restrictive diets out there—and also one of the most challenging to follow. The following are the most important risks and challenges of a vegan keto diet:

1. Highly restrictive diet

One of the biggest challenges of a vegan ketogenic diet is its high level of restriction. This can make it difficult to get all the nutrients your body needs and may also lead to food cravings and binges. 

2. Risk of nutritional deficiency

Another challenge of a vegan ketogenic diet is the potential for nutritional deficiencies. This is due to the lack of variety in vegan-friendly foods and the exclusion of key nutrient-rich foods like meats, fish, and dairy products.

3. Weight loss plateau

A weight loss plateau [5]Mayo Clinic: Getting past a weight-loss plateau is when your weight loss slows down or stalls altogether despite following a diet. The ketogenic diet, in particular, is known to reach a point of weight loss plateau after a few weeks.

4. Physical side effects

Several physical side effects can occur when your body goes into ketosis. These side effects, often referred to as “keto flu,” can include fatigue, headaches, nausea, and constipation.

5. Keto flu

As we mentioned above, “keto flu” [6]Harvard Health Publishing School: What is keto flu? is a common side effect of going on a vegan ketogenic diet. Keto flu symptoms can include fatigue, headaches, nausea, and constipation—and they can be tough to deal with.

6. Risk of eating disorders

Restrictive diets like the vegan ketogenic diet comes with an increased risk of developing an eating disorder such as anorexia or bulimia nervosa. 

If you have any history of disordered eating, it’s important to speak with a doctor before starting any type of restrictive diet plan—vegan keto or otherwise.

Tips to limit carbs on a vegan keto diet

Vegan diets are inherently rich in carbs since they eliminate all fat and protein-rich animal-based foods. As a result, vegans following a keto diet must be especially diligent about limiting their carb intake. 

Here are some tips for limiting carbs on a vegan keto diet:

  1. Replace your carbs with vegan proteins like tofu, tempeh, and seitan.
  2. Fill up on low-carb vegetables like lettuce, cucumbers, mushrooms, and broccoli.
  3. Focus on replacing your carbs with healthy vegan fats. Snack on nuts and seeds. Add avocados and nut butters like peanut or almond butter to your diet. Incorporate healthy oils like avocado oil, coconut oil, and olive oil into your meals.
  4. Sugars are a form of complex carbs that interfere with ketosis. Use vegan-friendly keto sweeteners like stevia and monk fruit to keep your overall carbohydrate intake low.
  5. Make your own vegan keto snacks and meals made with healthy fats and proteins.

Supplements for vegans on a keto diet

It can be hard to get all the nutrients you need on a diet as restrictive as this. That’s where supplements come in. People on a vegan keto diet must consider taking the following supplements:

  • Vitamin B12
  • Vitamin D
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Iodine
  • Fiber supplements

Consult with your personal dietician to understand your nutritional requirements before consuming any supplements.

Precautions for vegans on a keto diet

If you’re thinking of following a vegan keto diet, there are a few things you should keep in mind:

1. Make sure you’re getting enough calories

Despite the fact that a vegan keto diet can help you lose weight, make sure you’re still getting enough calories to support your body’s needs. Do not deprive your body beyond a point.

2. Get enough fat

Ketogenic diets are generally high in fat. So it is easy to end up loading up on unhealthy, saturated fats. This risk extends to the vegan keto diets as well.

Make sure you’re getting enough of the right kinds of fat, such as omega-3 fatty acids. Ensure that they come from healthy but vegan sources.

3. Get enough protein

A vegan keto diet requires relatively high protein consumption. By contrast, vegan diets are not as protein-centric. Before you combine both these diets, make sure you have an extensive vegan food list ready at hand. You will need to put some extra effort into choosing foods that can provide you with enough protein.

4. Eat more fortified foods

People who choose to combine vegan and ketogenic diets have to be more mindful about getting enough micronutrients like vitamins and minerals. This is because both vegan and ketogenic diets cut out large food groups.

To make sure you’re getting enough of the key nutrients, consider eating more fortified foods, taking supplements, or both.

5. Avoid processed foods

As with any healthy diet, avoid processed foods on a vegan keto diet. Stick to healthy, whole foods to reap the benefits of this diet.

6. Consultation and guidance

It’s important to speak with your personal dietitian or doctor before starting any type of restrictive diet plan—vegan keto or otherwise. 

7-day vegan keto diet plan

A vegan keto diet can be challenging to maintain because it requires a careful balance of nutrients. This 7-day vegan keto diet plan will help you get started:

Day/MealBreakfast LunchSnackDinner  
Monday Berry smoothie and baked oatsGrilled portobello mushrooms and spicy southwest salad Celery sticks with almond butterVeggie burger with avocado
TuesdayChickpea flour pancakes and full-fat coconut milk coffeeKale soup and veggie lettuce wrapSliced cucumber in balsamic vinegarAcorn squash with vegan chili
WednesdayVegan waffles with a kale smoothieGarden salad with grilled tofuMixed berries with chia seeds and lemon juice Vegan tamales 
ThursdayOvernight oats with mixed nutsTomato Basil soup and zucchini noodles with pestoCarrot sticks guacamoleCauliflower rice bowl
Friday Vegan chickpea omeletSpaghetti squash with marinara sauceGreen bell pepper hummusSpaghetti squash with vegan meatballs
SaturdayChia pudding with almond milkCauliflower crust pizzaKale chipsVegan paella
SundayMultigrain bread peanut butter sandwiches Baked sweet potato with grilled veggiesCherry tomatoes with lemon and basil dressingPad thai with peanut sauce

Conclusion

The vegan keto diet focuses on unprocessed, whole plant-based foods high in proteins and fats and low in carbs. It provides some benefits to heart health, such as rapid weight loss and a reduction in body fat.

However, some nutrient needs may not be met by this diet alone. Supplements might be necessary to ensure adequate vitamin and mineral intake. These include iron, calcium, iodine, and vitamins B12 and D.

Due to the restrictive nature of this diet, people who wish to try it should speak to their personal dieticians or nutritionists before making any dietary changes.

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