Keto Diet Plan for Vegetarians

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Written by Brenda Peralta, Registered Dietitian and medically reviewed by Abby Courtenay

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Starting a new keto diet plan can be overwhelming, especially when you eliminate certain products. Such is the case of people following an animal-free diet. Beginning a new ketogenic lifestyle while being vegetarian can feel a little bit limiting. At first, you may not know what to eat, what not to eat, or how to balance all macronutrients.


This article will tell you everything you need to know about having a vegetarian meal plan for keto. You will learn which foods to avoid and which foods to incorporate, along with keto-friendly vegetarian alternatives. You’ll also see an entire day’s worth of meals and a shopping list. Finally, we’ll go over the most frequently asked questions.

 

What is a vegetarian keto diet plan?

A vegetarian ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat, and moderate-protein eating plan. It removes most animal products from the diet, such as meats and poultry. The only animal products included are eggs and dairy.


Can vegetarians do keto?

Sure, you can be a vegetarian and do keto at the same time as long as you do some careful planning. For example, you will have to be extra mindful of the amount of protein you have each day.


How much you should eat on a vegetarian keto diet will vary for each person.  The calories and macros depend on each person’s weight, height, age, activity levels, and other conditions. It will also depend on the goals you have. If you are looking to lose some weight, you must be in a calorie deficit. On the other hand, if you want to gain weight, you must have a calorie surplus. You can calculate your unique macros here.


A vegetarian low-carb diet is not suitable for babies or children, pregnant or breastfeeding women, people with Type 1 Diabetes, or those with pancreatic problems. Make sure to check with a health professional before making changes to your diet.


Benefits of a vegetarian keto plan

Why all of a sudden are so many people looking to follow a ketogenic lifestyle? Weight loss is the main reason people switch to a keto diet, but there are many additional benefits to this eating plan. Here are some other reasons for switching to a no-carb vegetarian diet plan:

  • Improves acne.
  • Better insulin sensitivity.
  • Lower blood glucose.
  • Decrease in appetite.
  • Reduction in triglyceride levels.
  • Increase in HDL levels (good cholesterol).
  • Improved PCOS symptoms.
  • Reduced epilepsy seizures.
  • Reduced blood pressure.
  • Increased energy levels.
  • More consumption of healthy low-carb veggies. 

 

Nutrition concerns over the keto diet for vegetarians

Following a vegetarian low-carb diet can be complicated if there is no structure.


There are some side effects of following a vegetarian keto diet. You must be careful you don’t develop any nutritional deficiencies when following a vegetarian diet. Planning all the meals will be essential to address these issues at the beginning to have optimum health.


To avoid having any nutritional deficiency, make sure to incorporate foods high in the nutrients stated above. Here is a list of keto-approved foods that are high in each nutrient.

  • Vitamin B12: nutritional yeast, tempeh, fortified milk (low-carb versions like almond or soy), eggs, and spirulina.
  • Vitamin D: egg yolk, fortified foods, and sunshine (you can produce vitamin D just by taking 10 minutes of sun each day).
  • Zinc: tofu, tempeh, nuts, and seeds.
  • Iron: eggs, dark green vegetables, broccoli, soy products, nuts, and seeds.
  • Calcium: fortified milk (almond/soy), sesame seeds, dark green vegetables, broccoli, and cabbage.
  • Potassium: avocado, spinach, and yogurt.
  • Omega 3 fatty acids: seaweed, chia seed, flaxseed, hemp seeds, walnuts, and soybean oil.
  • Protein: eggs, plain Greek yogurt, tofu, seitan, tempeh, nuts, seeds, and protein supplements.

If you cannot add any of these foods, you can always supplement with a keto multivitamin. It will have the right amount of nutrients your body needs to work correctly and avoid any deficiency.

 

How to do keto as a vegetarian

Typically, a traditional ketogenic diet has a moderate meat intake to have optimal protein levels. So you might be wondering how to begin a keto diet being a vegetarian. Here you will find the steps to make that transition as simple as possible.

  1. Calculate the calories and macros according to your requirements and goals. As a general rule, the amount of protein you need is at least 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. That is the standard rule for healthy protein intake. If you are trying to lose some weight, try to have at least 1.5 grams per kilogram of body weight.
  2. Increase the number of low-carb veggies in your diet. Add more lettuce, kale, tomato, cucumber, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, and celery.
  3. Replace the grains you usually consume with low-carb options. For example, instead of rice, replace it with cauliflower rice.
  4. One of the primary sources of protein in a regular vegetarian diet are legumes. However, they are limited in a keto meal plan due to their high-carb content. Look for other protein sources such as nuts, seeds, eggs, cheese, protein shakes, or soy-based products.
  5. Add healthy fats to your day. Increase the amount of olive oil, avocado oil, avocado, olives, nuts, and seeds.

 

GET A CUSTOM KETO PLAN


How to eat keto as a vegetarian

As a vegetarian, most animal products are limited. Depending on each person, you can consume eggs, dairy, and even small amounts of fish and seafood if you’re a pescatarian. On the ketogenic side of things, you’ll need to make sure to count every carb-containing food, so you don’t go over your carb limit.

Here is a list of protein foods to avoid when following a vegetarian ketogenic diet.

  • Meat and poultry: beef, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey, and duck.
  • Fish and shellfish: tuna, salmon, sardines, tilapia, shrimp, lobster, and anchovies.

There are other foods you should consume in moderation because they are high in carbs. Here is a list of foods that have a high carb content. Remember to include them only in moderation and count them into your daily carb intake.

  • Starchy vegetables: potatoes, sweet potato, and yams.
  • Grains: rice, oats, pasta, quinoa, rye, and buckwheat.
  • Legumes: beans, lentils, chickpeas, and edamame.
  • Fruits: banana, apples, melon, pineapple, peaches, berries, plums, and kiwi.

High-carb processed foods should be altogether avoided, such as:

  • Sugar-sweetened drinks: soda, sports drinks, juice, sweet tea, and energy drinks.
  • Processed foods: cookies, cakes, chips, pastries, breakfast cereal, and crackers.
  • Sweeteners: table sugar, honey, brown sugar, agave, and syrups.

Always make sure to check the number of carbs the product includes. Most people will need to eat between 20 and 50 g of net carbs per day to enter or maintain ketosis. 

What to eat on a vegetarian keto diet

We already saw the restricted foods, so what can you eat? Here is a list of low-carb vegetarian options to incorporate.

  • Healthy fats: olives, olive oil, avocado, avocado oil, and flaxseed oil.
  • Coconut options: coconut milk and coconut cream.
  • Proteins: eggs, cheese, seitan, spirulina, nutritional yeast, protein shakes, and soy-based products.
  • Nuts and seeds: chia seeds, flaxseeds, peanuts, pecans, almonds, walnuts, and sunflower seeds.
  • Dairy products: butter, plain Greek yogurt, sour cream, and cream.
  • Non-starchy vegetables: celery, zucchini, artichokes, broccoli, lettuce, kale, spinach, cauliflower, eggplant, cucumber, and asparagus.
  • Drinks: water, tea, coffee, sparkling water, and sugar-free options.

Have a protein source in every meal to balance the protein intake throughout the day. Add eggs, cheese, Greek yogurt, and soy-based products, ideally in every meal.

 

Food substitutes and keto-friendly alternatives

One of the main concerns when following this eating plan is where to obtain the protein you need.

To increase your amount of vegetarian keto protein, go for high-protein foods like:

  • Eggs
  • Cheese
  • Greek yogurt
  • Protein shakes
  • Soy products

Nuts and seeds will have both healthy fats and protein. They are an excellent food to include regularly.

There are some low-carb vegetarian meat substitutes you can include in your diet.

  • Meat: soy ground beef
  • Chicken: tofu chicken bites
  • Bacon: veggie bacon
  • Sausage: tofu sausage

If you are not an egg or dairy person, here are some ketogenic replacements you can try. In the list, you will find the food you can replace and its replacement.

  • Eggs: 1 tablespoon of flaxseed + 2 tablespoons of water
  • Dairy: soy, coconut or almond milk (fortified options are best)

 

Vegetarian keto shopping list

We can set up a vegetarian keto grocery list now that you know which foods to include and which ones to avoid. There are some carb-containing products such as legumes that you can eat in moderation. Quinoa, beans, edamame, chickpeas, and lentils, can be included in small portions. Just be careful with the portion size, and calculate how much you can eat to stay under your daily carb limit.

Highly processed and sugary foods and drinks should be avoided altogether, which means it would be best if you don’t have them in your house.

Here is a grocery list of vegetarian keto-friendly foods according to their food group.

Fats:

  • Nuts and seeds
  • Unsweetened nut butter
  • Butter
  • Sour cream
  • Avocado
  • Avocado oil
  • Olive oil
  • Olives
  • Unsweetened coconut milk
  • Unsweetened almond milk

Proteins:

  • Eggs
  • Greek yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Tempeh
  • Soy products

Low-carb produce:

  • Fresh vegetables
  • Berries (consume in moderation)

Drinks:

  • Water
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Sparkling water
  • Sugar-free beverages

Many stores now offer low-carb options such as keto bread or ketogenic cereal that you can include in the shopping list.


1-day sample of a vegetarian keto meal plan

It’s time to start cooking! Here is an example of what one day of vegetarian keto-friendly meals could look like:

  • Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with mushrooms, spinach, and avocado
  • Morning snack: Chia pudding with blueberries
  • Lunch: Mediterranean keto bowl
  • Evening snack: Microwave keto bread
  • Dinner: Loaded zucchini boats with tofu

Calories: 1,509 | Total Macros: 39 g net carbs, 75.1 g protein, and 101.5 g fat. 

If you are looking for something sweet after dinner, you can have keto vegetarian ice cream. You can use a coconut-based ice cream that will be both keto and vegetarian.

BREAKFAST Ingredients Serving Size Calories Net Carbs(g) Protein(g) Fat(g)
  Eggs 3 eggs (150g) 214 1 18.9 14.3
Scrambled eggs with mushroom, spinach, and avocado Mushrooms 1/4 cup (35g) 8 0.7 1 0.1
  Spinach 1/3 cup (10g) 2 0.2 0.3 0
  Avocado 1/3 avocado (100g) 120 2.2 2.2 10.1
Calories Net Carbs Protein Fat            
344 4.1g 22.4g 24.5g            
MORNING SNACK Ingredients Serving Size Calories Net Carbs(g) Protein(g) Fat(g)
  Chia seeds 1 oz (28g) 137 1.7 4.4 8.6
Chia pudding with blueberries Almond milk 240 mL 36 0.7 1.3 2.9
  Blueberries 1/2 cup (62g) 43 9 0.6 0.2
  Vanilla 1 teaspoon (4.2g) 12 0.5 0 0
Calories Net Carbs Protein Fat            
228 11.9g 6.3g 11.7g            
LUNCH Ingredients Serving Size Calories Net Carbs(g) Protein(g) Fat(g)
  Romaine lettuce 1 cup (72g) 72 0.1 0.9 0.2
Mediterranean keto bowl Cucumber 1/4 cucumber (70g) 7 1 0.4 0.1
  Tomato 1/2 tomato (55g) 9 1.3 0.6 0.1
  Cauliflower rice 1/2 cup (54g) 13 1.6 1 0.1
  Feta cheese 1 tablespoon (28.3g) 75 1.1 4 6.1
  Mozzarella cheese 2 oz (56g) 156 0.9 26 9.6
  Lemon juice 1 tablespoon (31g) 7 2.1 0.1 0
  Olives 10 olives (50g) 58 2.2 0.4 5.4
  Olive oil 1 teaspoon (4.5g) 40 0 0 4.5
Calories Net Carbs Protein Fat            
437 10.3g 23.4g 26.1g            
EVENING SNACK Ingredients Serving Size Calories Net Carbs(g) Protein(g) Fat(g)
  Coconut flour 1 tablespoon (7g) 28 1.9 0.9 0.9
Microwave keto bread Butter 1 tablespoon (14.2g) 102 0 0.1 12
  Egg 1 egg (50g) 71 0 6.3 4.8
  Baking powder 1/2 teaspoon (2.3g) 0 0.6 0 0
  Rosemary 1/2 teaspoon (0.6g) 1 0.1 0 0
Calories Net Carbs Protein Fat            
203 2.6g 7.3g 17.7g            
DINNER Ingredients Serving Size Calories Net Carbs(g) Protein(g) Fat(g)
  Zucchini 1 medium (196g) 33 4.1 2.3 0.6
Loaded zucchini boats with tofu Garlic powder 1/2 teaspoon (1.6g) 4 1.2 0.1 0
  Onion powder 1/2 teaspoon (1.2g) 4 1 0.2 0.1
  Tomato 1/2 tomato (55g) 9 1.3 0.6 0.1
  Tofu 3 oz (84g) 52 2 5.8 2.3
  Olive oil 2 teaspoons (9g) 80 0 0 9
  Cheddar cheese 1 oz (28g) 115 0.5 6.7 9.4
Calories Net Carbs Protein Fat            
297 10.1g 15.7g 21.5g            
DAILY TOTALS   1,509 cal 39g net carbs 75.1g protein 101.5g fat


The plan above should give you a sample of a vegetarian ketogenic menu. Remember to plan your meals according to the calories you need and the macronutrients for your specific goals. You can adjust the serving size and add or remove ingredients to fit your needs.

 

PERSONALIZE YOUR MEAL PLAN

 

Keto diet plan for vegetarians FAQ

Here you will find a list of the most frequently asked questions from people on your same path to healthy eating.

 

Yes, Indian cuisine is known for its delicious plant-based dishes, and many of them are naturally ketogenic.
These dishes are perfect for an Indian vegetarian keto diet plan:

  • Palak Paneer
  • Avial
  • Paneer bhurji
  • Sarso Ka Saag
  • Baigan ka bharta

Be mindful that not all Indian recipes are low-carb, so you’ll want to eliminate or decrease high-carb ingredients, like lentils, potatoes, or rice, and substitute with a low-carb veggie. For example, instead of basmati rice, have cauliflower rice.

Yes! If you follow an animal-free diet and don’t eat dairy, you can incorporate other protein sources.

Try adding more eggs to your diet to have high-quality protein. You can also include small amounts of legumes (such as quinoa or hummus) that won’t affect the ketogenic effect and provide a small amount of plant-based protein. Include more soy-based products as well to have that extra protein.

If you decide to carb up on certain days, choose carbs that are also a good source of plant-based protein. For example, add more beans, quinoa, chickpeas, edamame, or lentils to your diet. It will increase the number of carbs, but it will also increase proteins per day. Increasing the number of legumes you eat can decrease animal protein (eggs and dairy) per day.

The amount of weight you lose will depend on several factors. It will depend on your age, gender, sleep, physical activity levels, and additional conditions (hormone imbalances or other ailments). Usually, you can lose from 1 to 2 pounds per week. If you want sustainable weight loss, losing more than 1% of your body weight per week is not recommended. A higher percentage of weight loss could be from water and muscle mass.

  • Following a ketogenic vegetarian diet can be complicated when eating out. Here are a few recommendations on what to order.
  • Check out the salad options. Ask for extra cheese or eggs to increase the protein source. Add olive oil or nuts to the salad. Ask what type of dressing they are using to make sure it doesn’t contain any added sugars.
  • If you want a burger, ask if the patty can be vegetarian, and stay away from bread buns. Some restaurants offer soy-based patties and lettuce wraps instead of buns. Add some mayonnaise or avocado to the meatless burger to make it higher in fat.
  • Opt for a cauliflower-based pizza with extra cheese and veggie toppings if you are craving a pizza. Ask if the sauce has any added sugars. 
  • Look at the restaurant’s website. Many provide nutritional information for their dishes, so you can plan what to eat before you go.

Several factors are essential if you want to gain weight: exercise, food, and sleep. Make sure you are following the right training program to gain weight. Otherwise, the calorie increase could result in fat gain instead of muscle gain.

It would be best if you had more calories than your body needs to gain muscle mass. For example, if your maintenance calories are 2,000, then try eating 2,500 kcal. Make sure you are eating enough proteins (at least 1.6 g per kilogram of body weight). The most common vegetarian ketogenic sources are eggs, cheese, Greek yogurt, soy-based products, and protein shakes.


Alternatives to a vegetarian keto diet plan

Are you looking for additional information regarding the ketogenic diet for vegetarians? Check these references!