Keto Diet Plan for Vegans

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Written by Vanessa Roberts, Keto Expert and medically reviewed by Abby Courtenay

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Is there such a thing as keto for vegans?

Absolutely! There are plenty of people who follow a plant-based keto diet. When you think about it, these two approaches to eating actually have a lot in common:

  • Both use food to achieve health benefits.
  • Both encourage consuming real foods and cutting out industrialized products.

Although ketogenic eating and veganism are aligned, there are certain things you must keep in mind to combine them in a healthy way. 

Mostly, this means ensuring that you are getting enough of the right types of nutrients even as you restrict certain ingredients. 

For example, many of the plant-based protein sources vegans typically rely on, like lentils and quinoa, do not work with keto. So you may have to switch to keto-friendly vegan alternatives.

This guide will help you learn the benefits of this diet, which foods to eat and avoid, how to get essential nutrients, plant-based keto meal ideas, and more. 

 

What is a vegan ketogenic diet plan?

This is a fusion of two different types of eating:

  • Keto, which has you eating about 7-80% fat, 20% protein, and 5-10% carbs each day so that you can enter ketosis and burn fat for fuel.
  • Vegan, which is a completely plant-based diet that does not include any animal-sourced foods or products.

This high-fat, low-carb vegan diet plan allows you to enjoy the benefits of a typical ketogenic diet without eating meat, fish, milk, eggs, or cheese. 

Before you get started, please be aware that a keto vegan diet is not safe for everyone. People with a history of disordered eating, medical issues involving the liver, kidneys, or pancreas, or who are currently pregnant or breastfeeding should not follow this diet without approval from a medical doctor.

In fact, everyone should speak with a healthcare professional before making changes to their diet.


Benefits of a vegan keto diet

A ketoer and a vegan walk into a fast-food restaurant. The first person can order a bunless hamburger, and the second person can order fries. 

But a vegan ketoer? Nope, they can’t order either of these unhealthy choices.

One of the advantages of a ketogenic vegan diet is that it helps you stay away from highly processed foods and the added sugars, preservatives, hydrogenated oils, and artificial colors they often contain. 

Eating highly processed foods has been linked to weight gain, overeating, higher rates of cancer, high risk of heart disease, and early death.

Furthermore, as you may know if you’re already a vegan, eating meat can have a negative impact on animals, the environment, and your health. For example, consuming certain meats (like red meats and processed meats) has been linked to an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, pneumonia, certain types of cancer, and early death.

Aside from the benefits that come from what you’re NOT eating, what are the positive benefits of following a keto vegan lifestyle?

Ketogenic eating has been linked to: 

  • Higher energy levels.
  • Improved mental clarity.
  • Decreased inflammation.
  • Improved acne.
  • Lower blood pressure.
  • Reduced blood sugar and insulin levels.
  • Reduced appetite.
  • Weight loss.

 

Drawbacks of the plant-based keto diet

While it is possible to be a healthy ketogenic vegan, lack of careful planning can put you at risk of nutrient deficiencies.

Specifically, following a vegan diet can lead to low levels of iron, calcium, iodine, selenium, zinc, and vitamins B2, B12, and D. 

That’s why it’s so important to organize a proper vegan keto meal plan. You’ve got to make a conscious effort to include foods that are rich in these nutrients. (Find a list in the foods section below.)

In addition to eating certain foods, many keto vegans also get a nutrient boost from supplements and multivitamins.

On the ketogenic side of things, you should also be aware that some people feel symptoms of the so-called “keto flu” as they begin this new way of eating.

These can include headache, irritability, muscle cramps or soreness, sugar cravings, and digestive/stomach issues.

Once the body gets used to running on fat and ketones instead of carbs and sugar, these unpleasant side effects usually go away on their own.

The best ways to prevent or reduce negative side effects during the transition period are to drink enough water, replace electrolytes (sodium, magnesium, potassium), get adequate sleep, and avoid heavy exercise.

 

How to start the vegan keto diet

Thinking about switching to a new healthy way of eating but not sure where to start?

Here are the steps to take:

1. Calculate your macro percentages as a keto vegan

  • Use the PlanKetogenic quiz or another online tool to discover how much of each macronutrient (fat, protein, and carbohydrates) you need each day to get into ketosis. 
  • Vegan keto macros are no different from the regular ketogenic macros. Your daily calorie and macronutrient requirements depend on factors like your age, gender, weight, and activity level, not on which foods you eat

2. Put together a healthy keto diet meal plan.

  • Once you know your targets, you can decide what to eat to hit these calorie and macro amounts.
  • Planning ahead makes it easier to stay under your carb limit, reach your protein amount, and consume the right types of healthy fats. 
  • It also allows you to track the variety of keto vegan nutrients you are consuming by switching up your meals and ingredients throughout the week. (This also keeps your taste buds happy!)

3. Follow the plan and reap the benefits.

 

JUMPSTART YOUR KETO GOALS

 

What to eat on a vegan keto diet plan

When you adopt this eating style, you will

  • completely eliminate animal products.
  • cut out most carbohydrates.
  • make sure to get enough plant-based protein, fat and calories.

Say good-bye to foods like:

  • bread, pasta, rice.
  • eggs, gelatin, honey.
  • highly processed, packaged foods.
  • hydrogenated oils.
  • meat, poultry, fish, seafood.
  • milk, butter, cream, cheese.
  • sweet potatoes, potatoes, corn.
  • sugar, cakes, soft drinks, fruit juice.

Low-carb vegan keto foods to eat include:

  • Berries*: blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries (*small quantities)
  • Condiments: salt, pepper, herbs, spices, lemon juice
  • Drinks: water, tea, coffee
  • Healthy fats: avocado, olives, avocado oil, coconut oil, coconut milk and cream, olive oil, nuts and nut butters, seeds
  • Non-starchy vegetables: artichokes, asparagus, bell pepper, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumber, eggplant, green beans, kale, lettuce, mushrooms, spinach, tomato, zucchini.
  • Nuts and seeds: almonds, Brazil nuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, hazelnuts, hemp seeds, macadamia nuts, peanuts, pecans, pine nuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts.
  • Seaweed: nori, kelp, wakame. (Keep in mind that it is possible to eat too much seaweed.)

Make sure to eat keto-friendly vegan protein sources, like:

  • seitan, tempeh, tofu.
  • hemp seeds, chia seeds.
  • nutritional yeast.
  • protein-rich vegetables: artichokes, asparagus, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, spinach.
  • soy milk.
  • spirulina.

 

Vegan keto food list to combat common nutritional deficiencies:

  • Iron: spinach, broccoli, tofu, pumpkin seeds.
  • Calcium: tofu, cabbage, broccoli, okra, soy, almonds, sesame seeds, tahini.
  • Iodine: iodized salt, seaweed, green beans, zucchini.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: tofu, walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds.
  • Selenium: Brazil nuts.
  • Zinc: tofu, walnuts, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, shiitake mushrooms.
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin): avocado, almonds, mushrooms.
  • Vitamin B12: fortified almond/soy/coconut milk, nutritional yeast, supplements.

 

Food substitutes and keto alternatives

Low-carb substitutes for vegans going keto:

  • almond or coconut flour.
  • cauliflower rice.
  • eggplant lasagna.
  • lettuce wrapped sandwiches, tacos.
  • mashed broccoli or cauliflower, zucchini chips/fries (instead of potatoes).
  • monk fruit (instead of sugar).
  • zucchini zoodles or eggplant noodles.

Animal-free alternatives for ketoers going vegan:

  • seitan: look and texture is similar to meat.
  • cauliflower steak.
  • coconut, almond, or soy milk.
  • coconut cream.
  • nut-based yogurts like coconut yogurt.
  • vegan cheese (check the label, but usually contain very little protein).
  • chia egg: combine 1 tablespoon chia seeds and 3 tablespoons water and let sit for 5 minutes. Use this to replace 1 egg in recipes.

 

Vegan keto-friendly grocery list

Another advantage of planning your keto vegan meals ahead of time is being able to take just one weekly trip to the grocery store. You’ll already know all the ingredients you need, instead of improvising as you go!

While you’re at the store, take advantage of vegetables that are in season and products that are on sale. 

You can fit them into next week’s plan, or store them (freezing if necessary) until you need them. 

Here are some good staples to include in your vegan keto shopping list:

Produce

  • avocados
  • arugula
  • cauliflower
  • cucumber
  • celery
  • endives
  • lemons
  • limes
  • mushrooms
  • spinach
  • tomatoes
  • zucchini

Cans/Jars

  • artichoke hearts
  • olives
  • pickles
  • sauerkraut

Nuts, seeds, spices

  • almonds
  • chia seeds
  • curry powder
  • natural nut butters (check for added sugars)
  • oregano
  • pecans
  • pepper
  • salt
  • turmeric

Cooking/baking ingredients

  • almond or coconut flour
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • coconut oil
  • baking soda
  • baking powder
  • coconut milk/cream

If you’re familiar with the layout of the supermarket, it’s best to group the items that are located near each other together on your list. That way you won’t have to circle back to where you’ve already been, and you will be less likely to forget any items.

 

1-day sample vegan keto meal plan

Looking for delicious ways to put these healthy ingredients together?

Here’s a day’s worth of vegan keto meals:

  • Breakfast: Crumbled tofu scramble with spinach, mushroom, and vegan cheddar cheese
  • Morning snack: Handful of almonds.
  • Lunch: Zucchini noodles with vegan pesto
  • Evening snack: Carrot sticks and avocado mash with chia seeds.
  • Dinner: Coconut curry with veggies and seitan over cauliflower rice

Calories: 1,452  | Total Macros: 47.2 g net carbs, 55.5 g protein, and 107.2 g fat.

 

BREAKFAST Ingredients Serving Size Calories Net Carbs(g) Protein(g) Fat(g)
  Tofu 1/4 cup (81g) 117 0.3 14 7
Crumbled tofu scramble with spinach, mushroom, and vegan cheddar cheese Spinach 100g 23 1.4 2.9 0.4
  White mushrooms 1 cup (96g) 21 2 3 0
  Vegan cheddar cheese 1/4 cup (28g) 90 6 0 6
Calories Net Carbs Protein Fat            
251 9.7g 19.9g 13.4g            
MORNING SNACK Ingredients Serving Size Calories Net Carbs(g) Protein(g) Fat(g)
Handful of almonds Almonds 1/4 cup (36g) 207 3.3 7.6 17.9
             
Calories Net Carbs Protein Fat            
207 3.25g 7.6g 17.9g            
LUNCH Ingredients Serving Size Calories Net Carbs(g) Protein(g) Fat(g)
  Zucchini 1 medium (196g) 31 4.4 2.4 0.4
  Fresh basil leaves 1/2 cup (12g) 3 0.1 0.4 0.1
Zucchini noodles with vegan pesto Garlic 1 clove (3g)  5 0.9 0.2 0
  Lemon juice from 1 wedge (5.9g) 1 0.4 0 0
  Extra virgin olive oil 1 tablespoon (14g) 119 0 0 13.5
  Nutritional yeast 1 tablespoon 34 1 5 0
  Walnuts 1 tablespoon 45 1 1 4.5
Calories Net Carbs Protein Fat            
238 7.8g 9g 18.5g            
EVENING SNACK Ingredients Serving Size Calories Net Carbs(g) Protein(g) Fat(g)
  Carrot, cut into sticks 1 medium carrot 25 4.1 0.6 0.1
Carrot sticks with avocado and chia seeds Avocado, mashed 1/2 avocado (100g) 161 3.6 2 14.8
  Chia seeds 1 tablespoon (12g) 60 1 2 3.5
Calories Net Carbs Protein Fat            
246 8.7g 4.6g 18.4g            
DINNER Ingredients Serving Size Calories Net Carbs(g) Protein(g) Fat(g)
  Extra virgin olive oil 1 tablespoon 119 0 0 13.5
Coconut curry with veggies and seitan over cauliflower rice Garlic 1 clove (3g) 5 0.9 0.2 0
  Ginger root, chopped 1 teaspoon (2g) 2 0.4 0 0
  Coconut, cooking type 2/3 cup (160mL) 240 4 0 24
  Curry powder 1 tablespoon (6.3g) 21 0.2 0.9 0.9
  Lime juice from 1/4 lime (11g) 3 0.9 0 0
  Eggplant 1 cup, cubed (82g) 21 2.4 0.8 0.1
  Asparagus 1 cup (134g) 27 2.4 3 0.2
  Cauliflower rice 1 cup 27 3 2 0
  Seitan 42g (1/2 serving) 45 3.5 7.5 0.3
Calories Net Carbs Protein Fat            
510 17.7g 14.4g 39g            
DAILY TOTALS   1,744 cal 28.8g net carbs 79.4g protein 140.6g fat

 

Keep in mind that the ideal daily amounts of calories, fat, protein, and carbs are different for each person. This means you should tweak recipes and serving sizes depending on your individual needs.

To make this easier, you can consider signing up for a professional meal planning service. PlanKetogenic’s personalized meal plans are available for vegans. You fill in a short quiz so we can calculate your ideal daily macros, then we build your meal plan accordingly.

 

BUILD YOUR KETO DIET PLAN

 

Q&A about the vegan version of the ketogenic diet

Got questions about this way of eating? You’re not alone! Find answers to the most frequently asked questions about keto for vegans below.

People who follow vegan diets are often able to lose more weight than those who eat animal products. With an omnivorous ketogenic diet, many people lose 2 to 10 pounds the first week and 4 to 10 pounds per month after that. Weight loss varies from person to person and depends on a number of factors, including your starting weight and how much you exercise.

One common mistake people make when wanting to shed pounds is limiting their fat intake. Remember that keto is a high-fat diet! Your body will be running on fat instead of carbs, so you need to eat enough high-fat plant-based foods to enter ketosis.

Here are some ideas of what to order from a restaurant for your low-carb vegan diet plan:

  • Salad. Watch out for cheese (not vegan), croutons (high-carb), and dressings. Salad dressings often include added sugars, dairy, and/or animal products, so just ask for oil and vinegar. To make your salad more filling, add extra toppings, like olives, artichoke hearts, avocado, almonds, or sunflower seeds.
  • Substitutes. Identify which ingredients you can switch out and look on the menu for a viable alternative. For example, ask to sub or replace cheese and sour cream with guacamole.
  • Sides. If you can’t find a main dish that’s easy to modify, there will usually be some sides you can order, like steamed/roasted vegetables or cauliflower rice.

It’s helpful to check out the menu online before you go to a restaurant. That way, you go in with a game plan and you already know what questions you might need to ask your server. 

You can also make things easier by going to a vegan restaurant. That way, you can focus on looking for keto options from dishes you already know are animal-free.

Yes, this way of eating can be part of a healthy lifestyle. Careful meal planning will help you ensure that you are getting all of the calories and nutrients you need. Sometimes taking vitamins or supplements, such as B12, can help.

It is possible, but this combination of three different types of restrictive diets is too limiting for most people to stick with. However, there is no reason not to do it, as long as you are getting enough nutrients and calories, especially from healthy fats. Chat to your doctor before deciding to do such a restrictive diet. 

Separately, it has been shown that both vegan and keto diets can help lower the risk of type 2 diabetes. However, at this time there have not been scientific studies on combining the two diets. If you have diabetes, it is important to speak with your doctor directly before you consider changing your diet.

As a general rule, it is recommended that you drink half your bodyweight in ounces. So if you weigh 160 pounds, you should drink 80 ounces of water per day. That’s equal to 10 cups, 0.6 gallons, or 2.4 liters.

Drinking water is a good way to avoid the keto flu and reduce appetite.

 

Other ketogenic plans


Not sure if keto veganism is for you? Why not explore your options? Check out these similar plans to find the best fit.