The ketogenic diet can be a wonderful thing…. It helps people all over the world lose weight, control diabetes, reduce seizures and more.
But here’s the thing…
The keto diet is typically full of animal products such as meat and eggs! Understandably this leaves many vegan’s asking the question “How can a vegan adopt a ketogenic diet when it’s usually full of meat and butter?”
Well we’re here to tell you it doesn’t matter if you’re vegan or vegetarian, you can ABSOLUTELY achieve ketosis and reap the benefits that come with it. And to prove it we’ve developed a comprehensive 7 day vegan keto diet plan which we’re going to provide you today absolutely free.
But first we need to tell you something…
It’s Important to Do it Right
We personally utilize this diet here at Vegan at Heart but the reality is… Both the Vegan and Ketogenic diets restrict certain foods from being eaten and combining them has the potential to result in nutritional deficiency – if not done correctly.
This depends on the individuals age, nutrient requirements, health status, knowledge and lifestyle. While we believe that the vegan ketogenic diet can be adopted in a healthy way and provide many benefits, if you are doing this for medical reasons or have any doubts we recommend you consult a medical professional before embarking on this journey.
Now that’s out of the way, before we get into the diet plan let’s clarify the rules we must follow to enter ketosis as a vegan.
How to Follow a Vegan Ketogenic Diet
The main steps involved with a vegan ketogenic diet are:
- Avoid all animal products such as meat, fish, poultry and dairy
- Restrict net carbs to 25g – 50g net carbs per day
- Consume at least 0.4g – 0.6g of plant based protein per pound of bodyweight per day (for sedentary people)
- Get the rest of your nutrients from plant based fats
- Supplement to fill any potential nutrient gaps (vitamin B12, iron, zinc for example)
A quick note about carbs:
Most people find that 30g net carbs per day allows them to remain in ketosis, but if you’re working out really hard and burning alot of energy you can increase this amount.
There are varying levels of ketosis and if you eat less than 20g net carbs a day you’re virtually guaranteed to be in deep nutritional ketosis, however on a vegan keto diet this extremely low level of carbs is not desirable as it would greatly restrict the amount of valuable nutrients in your diet.
Our recommendation for net carb intake on a vegan keto diet is to keep it between 25-50g net carbs per day.
And try to stay on the lower range unless you are burning a lot of energy and consuming more calories. Although there are arguments that net carb limits don’t necessarily scale with increased caloric requirements, if you are following a vegan keto diet and require more calories you’ll want to increase your net carb intake as well to ensure you are getting enough nutrients.
A quick note about protein:
In terms of protein we take into account that fact that plant protein is not as easily digested as animal protein. In fact the Dieticians of Canada recommend increasing protein consumption by 10% when consuming only plant based protein. We then looked at the protein recommendations from the American College of Sports Medicine for people wanting to lose weight and people wanting to build muscle.
Putting this together we determined the following daily protein guidelines:
- For sedentary people and those exercising to lose weight between 0.4g – 0.6g protein per pound of body weight per day.
- For active people and those wishing to build muscle between 0.6g and 0.9g protein per pound of body weight per day.
If you’d like to learn more about macros on vegan keto please see this article which we dedicated to the subject.
Next, although we’ll provide you a 7 day diet plan to follow shortly, it’s useful to have an overview of what we should and shouldn’t be eating on the vegan keto diet.
What to Eat/What not to Eat on the Vegan Ketogenic Diet
Meat, poultry and fish are on the front row in the standard ketogenic diet because they are composed entirely of protein and fat. This makes meat an easy “go to” food source because it doesn’t add anything to your daily net carb count. As vegan’s we don’t have this option, but there are plenty of other food choices that allow us to stay within our net carb limits!
We’ve summarized the foods you should eat and the foods you should avoid on vegan keto below.
Foods to Eat:
- Dark Leafy Greens – Spinach, Collard Greens, Swiss Chard, Kale, Spring Mixes etc
- Low Carb Vegetables – Broccoli, Cauliflower, Mushrooms, Zucchini, Asparagus etc
- Nuts – Almonds, Brazil Nuts, Macadamia Nuts, Hazelnuts, Pecans etc
- Seeds – Chia Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Sesame Seeds, Flaxseed, Hemp Seeds etc
- Meat Substitutes – Tofu, Tempeh, Seitan, Quorn etc
- Avocados – A delicious high fat fruit that deserves its own spot on the list
- Low Carb Berries – Raspberries, Blackberries, Strawberries etc
- Vegan Dairy – Coconut Yoghurt, Almond Milk, Coconut Milk, Coconut Cream, Vegan Cheese etc
- Nut Butters – Almond Butter, Coconut Butter, Sunflower Seed Butter etc
- Low Carb Sweeteners – Stevia, Erythritol etc
- Vegetable Oils – Coconut Oil, Avocado Oil, Olive Oil, Sesame Oil etc
Foods to Avoid:
- Grains – Rice, Oats, Barley, Corn, Quinoa, Rye etc
- Legumes – Kidney Beans, Black Beans, Lentils, Peas etc
- Starchy Vegetables – Potato, Sweet Potato, Yam, Parsnip, Pumpkin etc
- High Carb Fruits – Bananas, Oranges, Apples, Peaches, Plums etc
- Sugar – Golden Syrup, Honey, Agave, White Sugar, Brown Sugar etc
We’re working on creating a comprehensive vegan ketogenic food list for you but this should give you a fair idea in the mean time!
Because many standard vegan staples such as rice, quinoa, lentils and beans are not allowed when doing vegan keto it can bit of a balancing act. Trying to meet your calorie and protein requirements while restricting your net carbs poses a unique challenge. You’ll need to avoid virtually all the foods in the ‘avoid’ list, and restrict your food intake to items on the ‘eat’ list. But don’t worry, with a little planning (and our free diet plan) you’ll have no trouble!
We’d also just like to offer a quick word of caution regarding the eat and avoid list… Just because an item is listed on the ‘eat’ list doesn’t mean you can consume unlimited amounts of it.
The difference between half a cup and 1 cup of strawberry halves is 4g net carbs. With a daily net carb limit of 30g net carbs, you can see how we need to be careful with your portions! You’ll need to calculate the macros (calories, carbs, protein and fats) for each of your meals and plan your days accordingly.
Never fear – we understand that it can be challenging and that’s why we created this diet plan for you!
The 7 Day Vegan Keto Diet Plan
When we started doing keto on an entirely plant based diet there were certainly challenges, and one of the biggest ones was this:
When you start looking up “low carb” vegan recipes on the internet and adding up the net carbs, you’ll quickly find that when you put these recipes together many of them simply have too many carbs for you to stay in ketosis. That’s why we created this 7 day vegan/vegetarian keto diet meal plan, to give you a simple, actionable diet plan to start the vegan ketogenic lifestyle off on the right foot while ensuring you hit all of your macros.
You can use this meal plan for 1 week, 2 weeks or as long as you’d like, and you can certainly adjust the meals to add more variety as long as you keep the net carb content in mind.
The diet plan is in pdf format and it contains:
- A 7 day plan for eating under 30g net carbs per day on a vegan diet
- 11 vegan keto recipes
- Macro nutrient information for every recipe and total macros for each day
Download the diet plan by clicking the button below.
You may find that it can be a little challenging to get enough calories while keeping within your net carb range. Please note that it’s extremely important to stay within your net carb range, as failing to do so can result in you being kicked out of ketosis. It’s also very important that you get an adequate amount of calories as not doing so is counterproductive.
The way around this?
Supplement meals with plenty of high fat, high calorie, low carb foods to meals like pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, almonds and walnuts, coconut milk, coconut cream and oils. Adding 1 tbsp of coconut oil to a smoothie or drizzling 1 tbsp of avocado oil over a meal adds 117 – 124 calories, 14g of fat and 0 carbs.
We understand the importance of achieving the right macros, we’ve calculated the macros for each meal in the diet plan so you know EXACTLY what you’re getting. To make things easy, we’ve included a few simple variations on a vegan keto smoothie in the diet plan, which you can adjust according to your caloric requirements.
And there’s more…
This 7 day vegan keto diet plan is based on a daily caloric intake of approximately 1600 (or slightly more) calories, but you can increase the caloric intake without affecting your net carbs by upping your consumption of oil.
Being on a calorie deficit is fine, but once you calculate your target always try to get the same or slightly more calories, as not getting enough will cause your metabolism to slow down, make you feel sluggish and have other curb your weight loss efforts. When it comes to succeeding with the ketogenic dieting it’s much more important you are staying in your net carb range, getting a variety of nutrients and getting enough protein than to worry about exceeding your caloric intake by 100-200 calories. You’ll also want to supplement with some form of multivitamin to make sure your getting everything you need to thrive on this diet!
Cover Your Bases with Supplements
We applaud you for choosing a diet that doesn’t involve the consumption of animals. But when you combine this with the restrictive nature of a low carb diet it can be very easy to miss out on key nutrients such as iron, vitamin b12, zinc and more. While you will be eating a variety of foods, we recommend that everyone following the vegan keto diet plan picks up a vegan multivitamin to fill any possible nutrient gaps.
It’s extremely cheap and provides a very large number of key vitamins.
So now we’ve covered most of the basics. The last thing you need to decide is how long you’ll use this diet plan for.
How Long Can I Use The Diet Plan For?
There really isn’t a limit to how long you can use this for, although most people like to switch it up after 2 – 4 weeks.
The real question is how long should you stay on a plant based ketogenic diet? This is a question we get asked often and the answer is – it depends.
If your goal is to lose weight or increase your energy throughout the day you don’t necessarily need to stay on keto forever, although you can if you choose. If you have epilepsy or are a type 1 or 2 diabetic the ketogenic diet you might want to do vegan keto long term and many people have great success with this, but we do recommend working with a medical professional if you are doing this for medical reasons.
Think of it like this:
You can look at the ketogenic diet as a form of ‘fasting with food’, as made evident by the fact that fasting will actually put you into ketosis. Fasting depletes your body of carbs just like when following a ketogenic diet, and in both cases your body will enter nutritional ketosis. This means many of the benefits of fasting may apply to keto. And just as with fasting, you can experience the benefits of ketosis by entering the state for a period of time (3 months for example) before gradually introducing a wider variety of foods and carbs into your diet.
By gradually increasing your carbs by a few grams a week you may reach a point where you start feeling more hunger cravings, have less energy and maybe just don’t feel as good as you did when restricting your net carbs more. This is your own personal upper carb limit. Once you discover your upper carb limit you have at least three paths to take with low cab eating:
- Reduce your carbs to a level where you are in nutritional ketosis (usually around 30g-50g net carbs per day) to stay in nutritional ketosis indefinitely.
- Consume an amount of carbs equal to or less than your personal upper carb limit and leave it at that. You may or may not be in ketosis at this stage.
- Do the same as above but periodically drop your carb intake to 30g net carbs per day periodically. This means you can enter ketosis for a few months before increasing your carb to your upper limit again.
Here’s the kicker:
The truth is the vegan ketogenic diet can be quite challenging to follow long term (although its absolutely doable), and being in ketosis is not required for weight loss although it can induce it quite rapidly. This is the reason some vegans find it’s best if the cycle on and off keto, or do keto for a few months and then increase their carb intake gradually to a level they are comfortable with while still remaining on a ‘low carb’ diet.
This could be anywhere up to 100g carbs a day or higher – its all about how it works for you and how you feel. Paleo diets usually involve a net carb intake of around 100g-150g and there are studies that support the effectiveness of this diet in weight loss. There’s also this study where low carb and low fat diets were evaluated across a period of 12 months, where the average carb intake of the low carb group at the 6 month period was actually 97g.
At 6 Months the Results of the Low Carb Vs Low Fat Study Were:
- The low-fat group had higher total cholesterol, the low-carb group had lower total cholesterol.
- The low-fat group had higher LDL, the low-carb group had lower LDL.
- The low-fat group had lower HDL at 3 months and no change at 6 months, the low-carb group had higher HDL at both checkpoints.
- The low-fat group had higher triglycerides at 3 months and virtually no change at 6 months, the low-carb group had lower triglycerides at both checkpoints.
Overall the conclusion of the study was:
“The low-carbohydrate diet was more effective for weight loss and cardiovascular risk factor reduction than the low-fat diet. Restricting carbohydrate may be an option for persons seeking to lose weight and reduce cardiovascular risk factors.”
The bottom line?
Eating a very low amount of carbs and staying strictly in ketosis is not a prerequisite to losing weight, although getting into keto can be a quick way to do so. So do vegan keto it for a while, then when you feel you would like a change slowly add more carbs to your diet (start slow – maybe 5g extra a week) and monitor your body. Keep increasing your carb intake until you reach a level you are happy with where you are seeing results and you feel good.
We hope this guide helps you to kick butt with the vegan ketogenic diet!
You may choose to stay on the diet for a long time, or choose to adopt the diet for a period of time and then gradually increase your carbs to a level which best accommodates your tastes and the food you love most. If you choose to do vegan keto, we hope you can see that this lifestyle is 100% achievable. Yes, there will be a short period of transition in which your body will have to get used to the new regimen, but the same is true of adopting a new exercise program or buying new glasses.
If you’d like to speak to like minded people on a similar journey we recommend checking out the vegan keto reddit group which is full of people ready and willing to help. Use the vegan keto diet plan included in this guide (f you missed it earlier there’s another link below), and come up with your own creative take on delicious high-fat, low-carb vegan recipes.
Of course please also feel free to comment in the section below or send us an email and we’ll be happy to answer your questions or receive your feedback!