The Vegetarian Keto Diet, Done Successfully

Vegetarian Keto diet

This how-to-guide to doing a vegetarian keto diet successfully is a great resource for anyone wanting to do the keto diet as a vegetarian. It includes a list of foods for both vegetarians and vegans who want to do keto.

Can vegetarians do a keto diet? If so can they do it successfully without nutrition gaps? It’s a valid question and one that needs to be addressed.

At first glance, the keto diet may seem like it’s only for the meat-only audience, but the boundaries have begun to change. As vegetarians and even vegans have started to embrace a vegetarian keto diet as an option.

Doing a vegetarian keto diet may sound strange at first. But the ketogenic diet is taking the world by the storm and doesn’t seem to be letting go anytime soon.

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Because the keto diet is a healthy and easy path to weight loss and greater health, it makes sense to try to combine it with vegetarian principles for a vegetarian keto diet option.

I also encourage you to read the 7 Best Keto Vegetarian Protein Sources for more details on how to get started. 

Visit our Vegetarian Keto Recipes for our complete list of recipes that are low in carbs and vegetarian-friendly. 

vegetarian Keto Diet
Vegetarian Keto Diet

Vegetarian Keto Diet

We already know that the vegetarian diet is also very popular for weight loss and improving health markers. Many celebrities do it, influencers do it, and you must have some friends who do it too.

While this is true, what about vegetarian keto? Is it even possible to do a ketogenic diet as a vegetarian?

So, the short answer is yes, you can be a vegetarian and do a keto diet. It does require careful meal planning, proper macro tracking ketone testing, but if you’re devoted to trying the ketogenic diet as a vegetarian, you’ll easily find yourself on a path towards a healthier lifestyle and weight loss.

Depending on the type of vegetarianism you practice will determine the foods you will be permitted to eat while doing keto. 

  • Octo-lacto vegetarians are permitted to eat both dairy and eggs
  • Octo vegetarians choose to consume eggs but not dairy
  • Lacto vegetarians are permitted to consume dairy but not eggs
  • Vegan consume no animal products or by-products and exclude both eggs and dairy.  They also abstain from honey.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. 

What Is A Vegetarian Keto Diet?

The term vegetarian keto diet seems quite strange and maybe even conflicting. After all, a typical ketogenic diet is heavily based on animal products. But, with a little effort and an excellent vegetarian keto food list, you can easily combine the benefit of both diets.

A vegetarian keto diet is a diet without any meat but it allows dairy products and eggs. It joins vegetarianism with a keto lifestyle. In the case of a keto, diet foods are quite low in carbs and high in healthy fats with a moderate amount of protein. 

The diet goal is to induce the metabolic process of ketosis. When the body produces ketones it begins to burn fat for fuel. It is an effective way to lose weight, especially body fat. 

The vegetarian diet typically involves the cutting out of all beef, poultry, and fish completely from your diet. 

There are some claims that vegetarians also eat fish and seafood. However, the diet that includes seafood is typically called pescatarian. A true vegetarian diet excludes any meat, fish, and seafood.

In the case of a keto vegetarian diet, it features non-meat that are also low in carbs and high in fat. 

What Are The Benefits Of A Vegetarian Keto Diet?

Practicing vegetarianism has proven to be good in preventing common diseases. There are several studies that confirm it’s benefits. 

However, the fact that it’s easy to lean heavily on high carb foods such as pasta, and grains can undercut some of the health aspects of this diet. 

Too many carbs can cause our insulin levels to spike and cause inflammation, all of which can lead to insulin resistance, and diabetes 2. 

In contrast, a diet that is rich in vegetables yet low in carbs can reap the benefits of both vegetarianism and ketosis. 

What Is A Keto Diet?

The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carb diet. By minimizing the number of carbs, you force your body to break down fats for energy, instead of carbs.

Traditionally, a ketogenic diet is a diet thought to contain less than 50 grams of carbohydrates per day or 5 to 10 percent of total daily calories.

A keto diet can have an intake of dietary fat of as high as 85 percent. Another way of saying it is, that it’s a diet that has four times more fat than carbs, with protein levels managed so that 90 percent of calories are coming from fat.

A ketogenic diet lowers carbohydrates and raises fats with the goal of producing ketones, fat for fuel.

When our bodies burn fat for fuel we produce three bi-products of fat breakdown, β-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), acetoacetate (ACA) and acetone. These by-products are called ketones.

On a ketogenic diet, the body looks for alternative fuel in the absence of glucose. It turns to fatty acids and fat stores to provide energy. This will also be the case with a vegetarian keto diet as long as the carb intake remains low.

In contrast, when we consume foods that are high in carbs, the body produces higher levels of glucose and insulin. This explains why glucose fuel is what most people run on.

The problem is that whatever excess glucose is not used by the body gets stored as excess fat. But when the body is deprived of glucose, fats are used for energy production.

Furthermore, when the fatty acid is broken down in the liver it’s turned into ketone bodies. The body then uses these ketones as fuel in a process called ketosis.

 keto vegetarian diet

Some Benefits Of Ketosis

  • Increased energy
  • Appetite suppression 
  • Better fat loss/ weight loss
  • Better physical performance (ketone energy outlasts glucose energy)
  • Greater mental clarity (brain fog is lifted)
  • Less inflammation (ketones are anti-inflammatory)
  • Better sleep

A  Summary Of The Vegetarian Keto Diet

Although a vegetarian keto diet excludes meat and fish, a person wanting to do a vegetarian version of keto can do so by consuming high amounts of fat, adequate amounts of low carb plant-based protein, and keeping total carbs low.

Maybe it’s true that the majority of vegetarians tend to substitute meat for foods higher in carbs. However, you’ll have to eliminate them if your goal is to enter and stay in a state of ketosis. For a more thorough shopping list look below, but in short, stay away from:

  • Sugar (including natural forms like maple, honey agave syrup…)
  • Potatoes, yams…(also limit the number of underground vegetables)
  • Beans and legumes (lentils, peas…)
  • Fruit (oranges, bananas…) (stick with berries instead)
  • Grains (corn, cereal, wheat…)

Can Vegans Do A Keto Diet?

The vegetarian keto diet has many more options when it comes to choosing different sources of fat and protein than vegans have. Because a vegan excludes all animal-based products entirely from their diet.

However, it is possible to do keto as a vegan. But it will be more challenging since its harder to find protein substitutes that are not animal-based and low in carbs. With that being said, it is still doable.

Vegetarian Keto Diet

Vegetarian Keto Diet Food List

Here’s a vegetarian keto diet grocery list of all the foods you can have as a vegetarian. While it is not a complete list it can still give you an approximate idea of what you should include in your shopping list.

Oils

  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Red palm oil
  • Avocado oil
  • MCT oil
  • Cocoa butter
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Macadamia oil

In the case of vegetarians, they can also use animal-based fats such as grass-fed butter, and ghee.

Vegetarian & Vegan Keto Protein Options

  • Firm tofu (calcium sulfate)
  • Tofu (Nigari hard)
  • Silken firm tofu
  • Tofu (silken soft)
  • Coconut yogurt
  • Coconut cream
  • Coconut flour
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Pumpkin flour
  • Almonds
  • Almond flour/meal
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Flax seeds
  • Flax flour/meal
  • Chia seeds
  • Hazelnuts
  • Hazelnut meal/flour
  • Seitan
  • Natto
  • Spirulina
  • Hemp seeds
  • Nutritional yeast

There are many different protein sources to choose from on the vegetarian keto diet. Have a look at the vegetarian protein guide, but you can efficiently use tempeh, tofu, and other vegan meat substitutes as long as they are low in carbs.

Egg And Dairy

Keto vegetarians can include eggs and dairy to their protein list. If doing keto vegan you need to avoid this section. Choose from the protein list above instead.

When it comes to dairy make sure to pick high-quality, sustainable grass-fed animal products whenever possible.

  • Kefir
  • Full fat yogurt
  • Full fat cream cheeses
  • Ghee
  • Grass-fed butter
  • Heavy whipping cream
  • Organic eggs
  • Hard cheeses
  • Soft cheeses
  • Protein powders that contain whey or casein

If yogurt isn’t to your liking, try substituting it for coconut yogurt. Or yogurt made with coconut cream. You can also use other alternatives to dairy; such as unsweetened almond, coconut, and cashew milk.

Keto Vegetables

We know the vegetables are an essential part of keto vegetarian diet. However, some vegetables can be higher in carbs depending on their sugar content. 

For this reason choosing your vegetable wisely is key as well as keeping an eye out for portions as the carb count can quickly add up. 

When it comes to vegetables it’s best to stick with above-ground vegetables, mainly leafy greens.

  • Artichokes
  • Spinach
  • Collard greens
  • Edamame
  • Fennel
  • Kelp
  • Broccoli
  • Broccoli Raab
  • Bean sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Beet greens
  • Bok choy
  • Bamboo shoots
  • Okra
  • Turnips
  • Alfalfa sprouts
  • Swiss chard
  • Watercress
  • Nopales
  • Radishes
  • Zucchini
  • Arugula
  • Kohlrabi
  • Celery
  • Lettuce
  • Asparagus
  • Carrots (small amounts)
  • Mushrooms
  • Eggplant
  • Onions
  • Peppers
  • Pumpkin
  • Rutabaga
  • Leek
  • Ginger
  • Green beans ( small amounts)
  • Tomatoes (small amounts)
  • Cucumbers
  • Mustard greens
  • Kale
  • Avocado
  • Green olives

There are many more veggie options; you can be sure you won’t be depriving yourself of vegetables on the keto vegetarian diet. 

When it comes to fruit, however, you need to pay a bit more attention. Avoid all fruits that are high in sugar. This is because even natural fructose sugar can inhibit weight loss. The most recommended and popular choice of fruits on the keto diet is berries.

Keto Fruits

  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Rhubarb
  • Prickly pear
  • Grapefruit (small amount)
  • Coconut

Supplements

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Anything from low carb protein powders, to milk-based, and plant-based supplements can be included in the vegetarian keto diet. As long as you keep an eye on the number of carbs per serving.

I recommend the following protein powders since they are both low in carbs and vegetarian-friendly:

Isopure Zero Carb Keto-Friendly Protein Powder

Quest Protein Shake Powder

Perfect Keto Grass Fed Collagen With MCT

Vegans will have to stay with plant-based protein supplement.

Sweeteners

Feel free to sweeten your smoothies, shakes, desserts with low-carb sweeteners, such as:

Avoid The Classic Vegetarian Mistake

One thing to keep in mind when starting the vegetarian keto diet is that you can’t survive on salads and cheese alone. You need to plan your meals carefully, perhaps even stack up on some extra supplements, minerals, and vitamins.

A lot of amateur and beginner vegetarians fail because when the exclude animal protein from their diet, they don’t replace them with other necessary protein-rich foods. Instead, they load up on empty carbs like pizza, cookies, pasta, sandwiches and other high carbs “carbage”.

One thing is certain, you’ll fail miserably in your healthy lifestyle quest and weight loss goal without a proper meal plan and a keto shopping list. You can’t fool yourself into thinking you are eating a healthy “vegetarian” diet if it’s loaded with bad carbs.

In the case of the vegetarian keto diet, you will be avoiding bad carbs and embracing more good carbs in the form of vegetables.

Good Carbs Versus Bad Carbs

So since your vegetarian keto diet choices might contain more sources of carbs than an animal-based keto diet, let’s clarify what are the right carbs to choose versus the bad carbs you need to avoid.

Bad carbs are generally processed. Although, when it comes to the keto diet, foods that are too high in carbs should also be avoided.

This will sometimes include both processed and unprocessed foods. Even foods that are considered healthy by some such as brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, quinoa should be abstained from.

The reason for this is that when we consume foods that are high in carbs they will cause an insulin spike, which causes our hunger hormones to also rise.

If weight loss and ketosis is the goal, then all foods that are too high in carbs should be avoided.

Examples Of Bad Carbs

  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Potatoes, yams
  • Fruit sugars
  • Chips and tortillas
  • Bread
  • Grain-based cereals

Examples Of Good Carbs

Good carbs are high in fiber and nutrients. They are usually not processed (or only slightly) and are primarily those found in vegetables.

They don’t cause the same spike in the blood sugar levels as the bad carbs. According to studies (linked to diabetes and coronary heart disease), they improve digestion and metabolic health, and even lower the risk of illness.

Some of the good carbs include seeds, nuts, leafy green vegetables.

Vegetarian Keto Diet Tips

Some tips to consider when on a vegetarian keto diet:

  • This diet doesn’t contain any animal meat (beef, pork, chicken, fish, and seafood), but feel free to use high-quality dairy products and eggs if lacto-vegetarian) Ovo-vegetarian will need to stick to plant-based proteins that are low in carbs.
  • As a general rule, get at least 70% of calories from fat, 20% from protein, and the rest from carbs.
  • Ideally, stick to 30-40 grams of carbs a day if you want to get into ketosis and stay in it.
  • Lower the intake of high-carb foods, even those previously thought as healthy.
  • Increase your consumption of low-carb vegetables.
  • Supplement on vegetarian keto protein powders if you think you’re not getting enough protein.
  • High-quality and healthy fats play a significant role; don’t substitute oils and other fats for low and inferior quality sources.
  • Don’t base your meals on vegan meat substitutes only; try to eat as much real food as possible for the mineral and vitamin intake.
  • Limit soy use. Soy is high in goitrogens and these can inhibit the thyroid’s function and the ability to use iodine correctly. Too much soy can lead to hypothyroid issues.
  • Add fermented foods (kimchi, natto, sauerkraut) to your diet to improve digestion.
  • Use a keto calculator to get an idea of how much protein, fat, and carbs you should consume for your ideal weight goal.

In conclusion, vegetarians can also utilize the keto diet for its many benefits. Therefore, with a little more careful planning and tracking both vegetarians and vegans can participate in the ketogenic diet.

You might want to visit this site for a full  vegetarian keto guide

We encourage you to pin our post and share it with your friends and family members who are wanting to do a keto diet while also adhering to a vegetarian lifestyle.

 

 

 

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2 Comments

  1. Vegans can certainly do the ketogenic diet. This should be a great article for them!

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