Vegan Diet vs. Ketogenic Diet

Imge of Vegan Diet vs. Ketogenic Diet



Meat lovers vs. plant-based. There shouldn’t be a lot of similarities between a vegan diet versus  a keto one, right? Actually, although they are very different diet approaches in some ways, they have several similarities that can benefit your health.

This article explores everything related to these two diets and compares the two of them. What are the similarities and differences between them? Benefits and side effects that you can get from each. Foods to eat and to avoid in each of these eating patterns. What is the difference in their costs? Finally, which is the healthiest?


What is a vegan diet?

A vegan diet excludes all animal products. Beef, chicken, fish, seafood, eggs, and dairy are all excluded from this type of eating plan. Also, foods like honey, gelatin, or any other food from an animal are removed.

There are several reasons why people choose to go vegan. Some people do it for its health benefits, others do it for the environment, while others do it for animal rights. No matter what your reason, this lifestyle has several advantages.

Since animal products are eliminated from the diet, is it possible for vegans to do keto? 

Yes! You can definitely do a keto vegan plan.

While many vegans rely on legumes for their protein intake, remember that they are also a source of carbohydrates. You can include them as long as you thoroughly measure the portion size and stay under your carb limit.

To help you reach an adequate protein intake, you can add soy-based products, like tofu, and edamame, or even vegan protein shakes. Seitan is a great low-carb high-protein food for ketogenic vegans.

Protein is not the only thing to think about. Add veggies to increase your nutrient intake. Keep the carbs low, and add healthy plant-based fats like avocados, nuts, and seeds.


Similarities between vegan and keto diets

Even though they seem like very different approaches, they have a lot of similarities. This is especially true when talking about health issues and the results you can obtain from changing your diet.

1. Keto or vegan for diabetes

When it comes to diabetes type 2, both can be good options to decrease and stabilize your sugar levels. While following either eating plan, you may see a decrease in your blood sugar levels and A1c levels.

Although you cannot cure diabetes, it is possible to go into remission, where you don’t need to depend on medications to have normal sugar levels. Some people are able to use either or both of these diets to achieve this, always with a doctor’s supervision.

2. Vegan vs. keto diet for weight loss

While on a ketogenic plan, the weight loss is fast at first (mostly due to water loss) and then continues at a more stable pace. On the other hand, with a vegan diet you may experience steady weight loss without the dramatic effect at the beginning.

A steady and sustainable rate of weight loss is 1-2 pounds each week. More than this, and you could risk losing water and muscle mass.

3. Low-carb or vegan for high blood pressure

Both can be great options to potentially reduce high blood pressure and decrease risk of heart disease. However, if you eat too much saturated fat in a keto diet, you could actually increase your risk by increasing your cholesterol levels.

Thus, when following a ketogenic approach, make sure that it is full of veggies and healthy fats (avocado, nuts, seeds, and olive oil). Cut down on sources of saturated fat, such as butter, fatty meats, bacon, sausage, cured meats, cream, and cheese.

A good rule of thumb is that saturated fats are usually solid at room temperature (butter), while unsaturated fats are usually liquid (olive oil).


Differences between keto and vegan

Although they have some similar outcomes, there are important differences between them.

  • Low-carb vs. vegan food choices

In a ketogenic diet, carbohydrates are restricted, so you eat mostly low-carb foods like non-starchy vegetables, nuts and seeds, meat, poultry, fish, and dairy. However, as long as you keep the carb intake under your daily limit, you can add healthy carb-based foods like fruits, whole grains, and legumes in small quantities.

On the other hand, in a vegan approach, you don’t cut back on carbs. The focus is on eliminating all animal products from your diet.

You have choices and flexibility in both. You can choose to eat a cleaner and healthier version, with lots of vegetables and whole foods, or you can fall into bad habits, like buying ultra-processed products. Just because a food is keto and/or vegan doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for you.

  • Muscle gain

It can be hard to gain muscle in both diets. It might be easier to achieve on a ketogenic diet because reaching a higher protein intake with a vegan diet is challenging. This is an essential macronutrient when looking to build muscle.

Since a ketogenic diet allows animal proteins, it might make reaching the total protein intake easier. Now, this doesn’t mean that you cannot gain muscle on a vegan diet (there are vegan bodybuilders), but it might be more challenging.


Health benefits of the ketogenic and vegan diets

There are a lot of benefits from following both eating plans. Even if they have different approaches, they have similar advantages when it comes to health.

  • Weight loss.  Many people follow these diets for their weight loss benefits.
  • Improved glucose levels. Both can contribute to having more stable glucose levels and A1c levels.
  • Potential for better blood work (reduced triglycerides and cholesterol levels)
  • May improve symptoms of PCOS. Thanks to reduced insulin resistance, symptoms of PCOS may be decreased when following either of these diets.
  • Decreased intake of highly processed foods
  • Can improves skin
  • May reduces symptoms of IBS


Side effects of vegan and keto

There are some negative side effects that you can get from following these plans. Let’s start by talking about those ones that can be found on a ketogenic plan.

  • Keto flu. During the first few days, you might get symptoms like headache, nausea, fatigue, and a foggy brain. Remember to increase your sodium intake and stay hydrated to avoid these symptoms.
  • Constipation. Since carbs are reduced, so is the fiber content. Thus, some people might experience constipation while following a keto diet. To avoid this, make sure to add plenty of fiber (non-starchy veggies) and drink plenty of water.

The following side effects can be seen in both vegan and keto diets.

  • Nutrient deficiency. Since fruits and starchy vegetables are limited, you might get a nutritional deficiency while following keto. When it comes to a vegan diet, since animal products are eliminated, you need to be careful with having low levels of vitamin B12, calcium, omega 3, vitamin D, and iron.
  • Impact on social gatherings. Since certain food groups are restricted, you might find yourself having some trouble finding some foods when going out or sharing meals with others.


Keto vs. vegan foods to eat and avoid

One of the most significant differences between these diets is food choice. Although they do have similarities in food options, many foods can be included in one but not the other.

Beans and legumes In moderation Yes
Condiments and sauces Allowed
(no animal products)
Dairy Allowed
Sugar-free drinks Allowed Yes
Sugar-sweetened beverages Not allowed Yes
Alcoholic drinks Allowed
Eggs Allowed No
Fish and seafood Allowed No
Fruits Allowed
Grains and starches Allowed
Herbs and spices Allowed Yes
Meat and poultry Allowed No
Nuts and seeds Allowed Yes
Oils and fats Allowed Yes
Processed foods Discouraged Yes 
(no animal sources)
Sugar-free sweeteners Allowed Yes
Natural sweeteners Allowed
White and brown sugars Not allowed Yes
Starchy vegetables Allowed
Non-starchy vegetables Allowed Yes


The most significant difference comes in the animal products. Vegans avoid all types of animal products, including meat, poultry, fish, seafood, eggs, milk, and cheese. On a keto diet, you can eat any of these as long as they are low in carbs (this means no milk). 

When buying packaged foods, make sure to read the ingredients list. When following a vegan plan, ensure that there are no animal products in the mix. For keto, watch out for hidden sugars and check the carb count. Our keto-friendly food list can help you get oriented.

For any healthy diet, highly processed foods should be kept to a minimum. Cook your own meals from whole ingredients when possible.


Which diet is cheaper, vegan or keto? 

So, which one is cheaper? A vegan diet might be easier on the wallet since produce is generally less expensive than animal products.

However, it depends on where you shop. For example, if you buy organic products, they might be more expensive. On the other hand, you might have a lower bill if you buy in your local farmer's market.

With that being said, a keto diet doesn’t have to be expensive. You can shop for deals on meat products and make sure to buy plenty of veggies to go along with it. Fats like coconut oil, almond milk, avocado, nuts, and seeds might be more expensive, but you can always buy them in bulk or compare different supermarkets to find the best price.


Which one is healthier?

The most important thing is which one you can see yourself doing for a long time. The healthiest diet is the one that you can sustain. It also depends on your food choices. For example, if you are following a ketogenic plan but only include bacon, fatty meats, and not enough veggies, this is not a healthy approach.

The same goes for vegans. If you are only eating french fries and packaged foods, then you are not having a healthy approach to a vegan lifestyle.

Remember to include lots of veggies, fruits, low-fat meats, and healthy fats like nuts, seeds, avocado, and olive oil.


The takeaway

Either way, you’ll be eliminating or restricting a food group. Vegans eliminate animal products, while keto restricts carb intake. Whichever diet you choose can bring benefits when it comes to weight loss, sugar levels, and other chronic illnesses like high blood pressure, as long as you are mindful in making healthy food choices.

Do the one that you can see yourself doing for the long run. Make sure not to approach it like a quick-fix diet that will last only a couple of days, but more of a lifestyle you’ll stick with.