Interested in eating less meat for ethical or health reasons but want the benefits of ketosis? Good news: following a vegan keto diet (or vegetarian keto diet) is entirely possible!
Here’s a breakdown of what to eat on vegan keto.
Vegan Keto Fats
Eat an abundance of healthy plant-based fats! Those include:
- Coconut meat and coconut oil
- Avocado and avocado oil
- Olives and olive oil
- Low-carb nuts and seeds (see list below)
- Palm oil
- MCT oil or MCT oil powder
Vegan Keto Proteins
Many vegan “mock meats” and other packaged foods are full of carbs, so it’s best to stick with whole food proteins as much as possible. Here are the best:
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are good sources of protein and fat, making them a good option for vegan keto.
Choose low-carb nuts like:
- Brazil nuts
- Macadamia nuts
And seeds like:
- Chia seeds
- Flax seeds (make sure they’re ground)
- Hemp seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
Also known as soybeans, edamame are the base of tofu and tempeh. You can eat them roasted, dry roasted, and in salads or other keto dishes.
A ½ cup of edamame contains about 4g fat, 8.5g protein, and 3.5g net carbs.
Tempeh is made from fermented soybeans, making it a gut- and digestion-friendly food. The fermented soybeans are binded together into a block shape.
One serving of plain tempeh has about 4.5g fat, 15 grams of protein, and 3g net carbs.
Make sure the tempeh:
- Contains no added flavors, seasoning, or grains that increase the carbs
- Is non-GMO and organic, as GMO soy foods may cause hormone dysregulation and inflammation
Like tempeh, tofu is made from soybeans. The beans are made into milk that is then coagulated and pressed into a meaty block.
Use soft tofu for blending in sauces, dressings, smoothies, or desserts and medium, firm, or extra firm for stir frying, frying, grilling, or baking.
Tofu is not as fiber-rich as tempeh, but it’s lower in carbs. A 3.5-ounce serving has about 4g fat, 8g protein, and 1g net carbs.
Always prioritize non-GMO and organic tofu.
Vegan Protein Powders
A low-carb plant-based protein powder helps you meet protein needs on a vegan ketogenic diet.
Add protein powders to smoothies, desserts, or mix with water or a low-carb plant-based milks.
Vegetarian Keto Proteins
If you’re a vegetarian who still eats eggs and dairy, your other protein options include:
- Dairy like ghee, unsweetened yogurts, butter, heavy cream, or raw goat’s milk (opt for grass-fed pasture-raised organic dairy)
Vegan Keto Dairy and Egg Alternatives
For egg substitutes in keto baking recipes, use (per egg):
- One tablespoon ground chia seeds or flax seeds whisked with three tablespoons filtered water
- Two tablespoons water mixed with one tablespoon oil and two teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ cup pureed soft tofu
- Egg replacers from Bob’s Red Mill (1g net carbs), Orgran (2g net carbs), or Ener-G (4g net carbs)
For scrambled “eggs” or “omelets,” use the Vegan Egg (0g net carbs).
For dairy substitutes, use:
- Coconut milk or cream, cashew milk, or almond milk (with little or no preservatives and no sugars)
- Vegan butters with healthy oils like Ellyndale Organics, Nutiva, or Miyoko’s
- Cashew cheese or low-carb vegan cheeses made with healthy oils
- Coconut or cashew yogurt (unsweetened)
Vegan Keto Carbs: Tons of Low-Carb Veggies
To stay in the KetoZone (carbs at 20 grams per day or lower), most of your carbs should come from low-carb vegetables, including:
- Leafy greens: spinach, lettuce, and kale
- Bell peppers
- Broccoli and cauliflower
- Brussels sprouts
- Garlic and onions
While eating a vegan ketogenic diet takes extra work initially, it’s completely possible! Overall, eat tons of plant-based fats, get enough protein, and focus on low-carb vegetables.