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Keto Vegetarian Diet

 Italian Cuisine, Pasta, Vegetables

It is generally thought that the vegetarian diet is among the most beneficial for human health. Research has demonstrated that vegetarian diets are correlated with a decreased prevalence of heart conditions and diabetes, and may even be healthier than non-vegetarian diets that are commonplace.

Although the vegetarian diet or the vegetarian keto diet may be beneficial to some, it does not necessarily mean that it is the ideal diet for all people’s health.

Studies have shown the ketogenic diet to be more beneficial than the vegetarian diet when it comes to weight loss, as well as improving blood triglycerides and blood sugar levels. Additionally, it can help reduce the severity of conditions such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, polycystic ovary syndrome, and some types of cancer.

However, there are both ecological and medical issues tied to the ketogenic diet. The main ecological problem associated with diets that include meat comes from the sources of animal products such as meat and dairy.

Conventionally-raised animal products, such as meat and dairy, which come from controlled animal feeding operations (CAFOs), not only lack essential nutrients, but they also increase climate change and are associated with animal mistreatment and environmental degradation.

We can use ideas from the ketogenic diet and the vegetarian diet to create a better diet for us, animals, and the planet that avoids potential problems.

Essentially, we can reap the advantages of being a vegetarian and following the ketogenic diet simultaneously by consuming a vegetarian ketogenic diet.

Vegetarian Keto Diet

A vegetarian ketogenic diet is a diet which does not contain any meat, fish, or poultry and limits carbohydrate intake. By following a ketogenic diet and eating in an eco-friendly, cruelty-free way, we can improve our health while also reducing our environmental impact.

Two major sources of animal-based nutrition that vegetarians can enjoy on the ketogenic diet are eggs and dairy products, both of which are extremely nutrient-rich.

If you are looking to make a lower environmental impact and improve the care of animals, then it is wise to buy your eggs and dairy from chickens and cows that are raised on farms nearby.

By investing in animal rearing practices that are healthy and sustainable, you will be ensuring the highest quality of humane and healthy animal products (more details to come).

In this article, we will look at how to put together a vegetarian ketogenic diet which includes eggs and dairy. It is not advised to consume any type of meat, fish, or poultry products.

Alternatively, if you wish to exclude all animal-based foods for your ketogenic diet, our comprehensive guide to the vegan ketogenic diet will provide you with much better advice — such as a comprehensive list of dairy and egg alternatives.

How the Vegetarian Keto Diet Works

The keto diet encourages the body to burn fat through a process known as ketosis and requires individuals to obtain the majority of their daily calories from fat (80-90%), a moderate amount from protein (5-15%), and a small amount from carbohydrates (5-10%).

Research published in Nutrients in October 2021 indicated that the average American gets around 50% of their daily calories from carbohydrates, which contrasts sharply with the traditional American diet.

It may come as a shock to vegetarians, who often substitute meat with carbs such as pasta, crackers, and other starchy foods, according to Jaime Mass, RDN, owner of Jaime Mass Nutritionals in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Mass refers to people who consume large amounts of pasta as “pasta-tarians,” and she claims that while switching to the ketogenic diet can be tough for them, it may also be advantageous by allowing them to reduce their intake of processed carbohydrates and instead focus on nutritious plant-based foods and whole grains.

Keto Vegetarian Diet Sample

  • Breakfast Chia seed pudding with protein powder or protein pancakes made from eggs and protein powder
  • Snack Sliced cucumber with paprika cream cheese dip or cottage cheese with sunflower seeds
  • Lunch Large salad with avocado, vegetables, seeds, and nuts or an egg omelet with herbed goat cheese and pesto
  • Dinner Zucchini noodles (zoodles) with pesto and tofu; sautéed vegetables with tempeh; or spinach salad with cashew-crusted tofu, grilled zucchini, cubed feta, and olive oil

How to Limit Carbs as a Vegetarian

One of the most common errors that people who don’t eat meat make when following a ketogenic diet is consuming too many carbs. This is primarily because a lot of vegetarian dishes are high in carbohydrates. The most common high-carb culprits are:

  • Grains – wheat, corn, rice, cereal, etc.
  • Legumes — lentils, black beans, peas, etc.
  • Sugar – honey, agave, maple syrup, etc.
  • Fruit – apples, bananas, oranges, etc.
  • Tubers – potato, yams, etc.

Avoid consuming the above mentioned items while following a ketogenic diet. These foods contain so much carbohydrates that a single portion can exceed your daily carb allowance, causing you to drift away from ketosis.

Even though you can’t eat certain foods, you don’t have to settle for just eggs and lettuce as the only vegetarian keto-friendly options.

Here is a brief overview of all the foods that you can eat:

  • Vegan “meats” — tempeh, tofu, seitan, and other high-protein, low-carb vegan “meats”
  • Leafy greens – spinach, kale, etc.
  • Above ground vegetables – broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, etc.
  • High Fat Dairy & Eggs – hard cheeses, high fat cream, butter, eggs, etc.
  • Nuts and seeds – pistachios, almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc.
  • Avocados and berries – raspberries, blackberries, and other low glycemic impact berries
  • Sweeteners – stevia, erythritol, monk fruit, and other low-carb sweeteners >
  • Other fats – coconut oil, olive oil, MCT oil, avocado oil, etc.

To get a thorough analysis of the calories, fats, proteins, and carbohydrates contained in some of these foods, look at our ketogenic diet food list.

By adhering to the vegetarian keto-friendly items noted above, you can be both a vegetarian and a keto dieter simultaneously, and still meet most of your nutritional requirements.

At the beginning, it could appear difficult to acquire the necessary amount of fat without consuming meat and fish.

You don’t need to eat large amounts of butter and eggs every day in order to get your required amount of fat. There is a considerable amount of nutritious, plant-based fats that could become your new staples on a ketogenic diet.

How to Get Enough Fat on the Vegetarian Keto Diet

A substantial portion of your keto diet will be composed of eggs and full-fat dairy products. However, they won’t be your only source of fat. You can opt to use various kinds of vegetable oils in place of the animal fats usually used when cooking and baking if you prefer.

Here’s a brief list of the oils you can use and what you can use them for:

  • Avocado Oil. Avocado oil has a ton of healthy monounsaturated fats. It also has the highest smoke point of any other cooking oil (at 520 degrees Fahrenheit), which makes it perfect for cooking, baking, and deep frying. You can use it to fry the vegetarian tater tots that you’ll learn about later in the article.
  • Coconut Oil. This oil provides you with an abundance of fatty acids that are the ideal fuel sources for keto dieters. It is an excellent oil for fat bombs, desserts, and cooking and baking at temperatures under 350 degrees Fahrenheit (similar to butter).
  • MCT Oil. This oil is commonly derived from coconut oil and palm oil. It contains medium chain triglycerides, which are saturated fatty acids that skip normal fat digestion and go right to the liver where they are converted into ketones for fuel. Add it to your salad dressings, sauces, smoothies, fat bombs, and hot drinks like coffee or tea for a potent energy boost.
  • Olive Oil. Olive oil is one of the healthiest oils you can consume. In fact, a recent 2018 study found extra virgin olive oil to be the safest and healthiest oil for cooking, baking, and deep frying.
  • Red Palm Oil. Being an incredible source of Vitamins A and E, red palm oil doubles as a vitamin supplement. It has a mild carrot-like flavor and a rich, buttery texture. You’ll find that cooking with it can enhance the flavor of your vegan meat, nuts, and seeds. Caution: When buying palm oil, however, you must be extremely careful because many of these products are made in a way that devastates the wildlife and their environment. If you do want to add red palm oil to your keto diet, make sure you only buy RSPO-certified or Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO) products.

These oils, although not exhaustive, are the most beneficial and practical when it comes to plant-based consumption.

In other words, the best type of fat to consume comes from plants that are high in fat. These types of foods will provide you with your daily requirements of fat, vitamins, minerals, and fiber, making them the ideal choice for vegetarians who follow a keto diet.

The Risks and Benefits of Following the Keto Diet as a Vegetarian

It can be a challenge, but it is possible to stick to the keto diet while being a vegetarian. But is it healthy? And does it lead to weight loss?

That depends. If a vegetarian who is not leading a healthy lifestyle is encouraged by the ketogenic diet to make better choices with their carbohydrates, Mass believes that it could be a positive outcome.

Switching from an eating plan high in pasta to one that is full of vegetables and beneficial fats may assist someone in shedding excess weight, according to the Mayo Clinic.

For vegetarians who rely on high-fiber carbs such as quinoa and oats to provide them with a feeling of satiety, transitioning to a low-carb keto diet could be too restrictive.

Research on vegetarian keto diets is scarce, yet Liz MacDowell, a certified holistic nutrition consultant from Meat Free Keto, found a few advantages when she began following this diet.

She states that she not only achieved her weight loss goals in a healthy amount of time, but she also experienced other positive effects such as reduced joint pain and improved digestion, which she was not anticipating.

Initial research has also associated the keto diet with the treatment of certain illnesses, such as type 2 diabetes.

A recent study published in Nutrients found that, in contrast to common opinion, it is possible for a person with type 2 diabetes to stop taking insulin and other glucose-lowering medications and reverse their diagnosis with a low-carbohydrate eating pattern.

Mass is not very eager to suggest this type of diet. She expressed that she did not observe numerous advantages to adopting a keto vegetarian diet. The major concern is nutritional deficiencies.

Vegetarians may have difficulty obtaining enough of certain essential vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin B12, vitamin D, zinc, iron, calcium, omega-3 fatty acids, and protein, according to MedlinePlus. The Keto diet puts even more stringent rules in place, making it more probable that a person could be lacking in certain nutrients.

An illustration of this would be that breakfast cereals, which typically boast a high content of vitamin B12, are not permissible on a ketogenic diet. In contrast, a lot of cereals that are acceptable on a keto diet do not contain vitamins and minerals that are added in.

Protein is also a big concern. Mass states that when following the ketogenic diet, one is consuming fewer proteins by cutting out many sources that are typically included in a vegetarian diet, such as legumes and grains.

A keto diet eliminates a vital source of complete proteins, which are necessary for the body to create bones, muscles, and skin, as stated by MedlinePlus.

Follow a Vegetarian Keto Diet in a Healthy Way

Knowing the nutrients you are missing in your diet can help you make sure to eat foods which are full of them. For instance, incorporate tuna for Vitamin B12, eggs for Vitamin D, and kale for calcium into your diet according to the NIH.

If you’re willing to give it a shot, you can go with a pescetarian keto diet, which doesn’t include meat or poultry, but includes fish and seafood, both of which are great sources of protein and omega-3 fatty acids.

The bottom line? Maintaining this type of diet is difficult because it combines two very restrictive eating plans. Mass believes that the risks outweigh the benefits.

If you decide to pursue it, she advises you to be cautious and seek the advice of a competent and certified nutritionist to help in selecting the foods correctly and make sure that you are getting the necessary nutritional support.

Mass advises gradually lowering your carbohydrate intake instead of suddenly turning to a vegetarian ketogenic diet to avoid shocking your body.

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