“But I thought Keto was only for people who eat meat and cheese?”
With a little extra thought, mindful preparation, and adaptation, even those who choose to be vegan can partake in a ketogenic lifestyle. We like it, “Vego” (ok, not really, but we did like that little acronym).
The gist of keto is this, without going into too much detail, is high fat – high protein – low carb. We’re talking under 50g carbs a day (we heard you gasp from here… it’s going to be ok!). If you’ve found this article and are already vegan, you’re probably used to a lower carb lifestyle and/or only receiving carbs from veggies. If you’re new to keto, don’t have diet restrictions, and have found this article, we recommend reading THIS ARTICLE.
Anyhoo, YES, it is possible to adhere to a vegan and keto lifestyle.
VEGO aka Vegan Keto
To gain a better understanding of how the two will relate to each other, it’s important to understand the two dietary lifestyles separately.
The Ketogenic diet limits the intake of carbohydrates to ~5% of daily overall intake with fats in the 70-80% range and protein in the 20-30% range. The reason behind it? Some people go keto to lose weight, metabolically reset, to produce more energy, reduce inflammation, or just to try something new. While the reasons vary, the science stands behind the diet. When you restrict carbohydrate intake insulin levels are able to be more consistently regulated, sustaining energy production.
Vegan diets are those that do not include any type of animal products. Some strict vegans implement this rule in every aspect of their life, including avoiding any products tested on animals or buying anything made from an animal. I digressed, but the big point here is that they avoid all meats, fish, eggs, poultry, dairy, or any other animal ingredients you can think of. In terms of supplements, vegans often avoid commonly consumed products such as white sugar, casein, gelatin, and fish/cod/krill oils. Regardless of if you’re vegan for health reasons or ethical reasons, there certainly isn’t anything wrong with getting most of your nutrients (vegans get all their nutrients) from plant-based foods.
Together, vegan and keto is a restrictive, well thought out approach, to the very popular ketogenic diet. While it’s more difficult than other variations, again, it’s not impossible. To make it a little easier on you, we’ve compiled a vegan veto food list for you below! The goal is to increase plant-based fats, proteins, and reduce carbohydrate intake significantly.
Vegan Ketogenic Diet Food List
"I got 99 problems and protein ain't one"
The Best Protein for a Vegan Keto Diet
Protein is key for a vegan keto diet goer. We recommend low carbohydrate, plant-based, protein sources. Some examples include:
- Nuts & Seeds (watch the carbs here)
"Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting that tomato in a fruit salad"
Fruit for Vegan Keto Diet
It’s up to you and it’s your diet – we don’t recommend restricting yourself or keeping yourself from foods if you really like them. If there’s a will, there’s a way, and if you like food enough you’ll find out how to work the numbers so you can keep it in your diet. Capeesh? Which brings me to fruit; many people LOVE fruit as a snack and because it’s sweet and flavorful. Because fruit is pretty sugary, we recommend not eating most and consuming berries over others. Why? They have a lower carb profile and they’re actually a bit more nutritionally dense. Huzzah, fruit it is. Some examples 100g servings include:
- Watermelon 7.1g carb
- Strawberries 5.7g carb
- Avocado 1.8g carb
- Blueberries 12.1g carb
- Grapefruit 9.1g carb
- Lemon 6g carb
- Lime 7.7g carb
- Raspberry 5.4g carb
- Blackberry 4.9g carb
- Cherries 4.2g carb
"Avocado pep talk - you're fat, but you're the good kind of fat!"
Fats and Oils for Ketogenic Diet as a Vegan
Oils will become your good friend as a keto vegan. Why? They’re high in fats and low in carbs (talk about a win-win!) For a whole list of the best cooking oils, READ THIS. Lower-processed oils do also contain minerals, vitamins, and phytochemicals. Additionally, high-fat foods such as these will help you: coconut, avocado, olives, flaxseed, avocado oil & macadamia nuts. Another benefit of healthy fats is that they’re filling and flavorful. Over time, your body will adjust to not relying on carbs (sweets/junk food) for flavor, but instead, fats. Some examples of our favorite oils are:
"We don't have any vegetable jokes yet, so if you do, lettuce know."
Best Vegetables for Keto Vegan Diet
We’re talking good, quality, deep green veggies here. Season with herbs and others (garlic, basil, paprika, etc.) and get sauteing them up in olive oil, avocado oil, or coconut oil. Their low carb profile includes vitamins and minerals while remaining starch free. Some good examples per 1 cup are:
- Cruciferous vegetables (ones that look like tiny trees ex. broccoli 5.8g, cabbage, Brussels, cauliflower)
- Celery 3g
- Cucumber 3.8g
- Zucchini 3.5g
- Leafy greens (such as collards, romaine, spinach 1.1g, kale, Swiss chard 1.3g, arugula 0.8g, sorrel etc.)
- Veggies that are OK but have a higher carb profile (such as mushrooms, bean sprouts, bell pepper, radishes, green beans, asparagus, tomatoes)
"Pardon our humor, we're just nuts for nuts"
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts, nuts, the magical fruit… They’re not a fruit at all, but they will become a magical source for you to keep in your back pocket to rack up both fat and protein during your vegan ketogenic diet endeavors. They’re a bit lower in the carbohydrate profile as compared to plant-based foods and we recommend consuming them regularly. You can read about healthy nuts by clicking HERE or check out examples of our favorites:
- flax seeds .5g
- walnuts 1.9g
- pumpkin seeds 2.2g
- pecans 1.1g
- sunflower seeds 3.7g
- almonds 2.9g
- chia seeds 1.7g
- brazil nuts 1.3g
- macadamia nuts 1.5g
"So can I be Vegan AND Keto at the same time?"
Overall, it is possible, but it does require a bit more thought, regulation, and effort. But then again, anything is possible if you take the necessary steps, every day, to make your goal successful. Best advice? Monitor your ketone levels and stick with it. And if you need a little help with your micronutrient profile... we've got vegan supplements for that :)