Is there a vegetarian keto diet plan?
You’d love to start the keto diet, and are sold on all the weight loss and health benefits that this diet offers but looking at the type of food allowed on the plan you see that its heavy on meat and meat products.
Is there a way to adapt this amazingly popular diet so that you can reap all the benefits but still stay true to your desire not to consume animal products?
The good news is Yes! As a non consumer of animal products, this vegetarian keto diet plan will show you how to meet all your nutritional needs while at the same time enjoying all the amazing weight loss and health gains of keto eating.
For all the amazing health benefits read here keto diet (does it work)
For the rest of you who already know all about the keto diet, and now want to find out how to adapt it to your vegetarian needs then you can skip the extra reading and move straight on to finding out everything that you need to know.
You’ll need to take extra some extra care
First off, I’ll be straight: Eating a vegetarian or a vegan keto diet is completely possible but you are going to have to give this a lot of extra thought and plan how exactly you are going to be able to reach all your nutritional needs at the same time.
Don’t let this put you off, your choice to be vegetarian is saving a lot of animals from potential abuse, as well as doing the planet a favor by reducing your carbon footprint. In my opinion, that’s worth some extra work all by itself, before you even get started on all the ways that the keto diet can help you.
One of the most important things to do is to get organized: plan out your meals in advance and make sure you have all the ingredients you’re going to need. This is likely to result in you eating more nutritious and better thought out meals than just throwing some food together by using whatever is lingering in your store cupboard.
With some good forward planning its completely possible for you to give yourself the best of both worlds – all the benefits of your healthy plant based way of eating plus all the health benefits of the keto diet.
Quality over quantity
This can’t be emphasized enough. It’s true for any diet, but even more important when you embark on any sort of diet that omits certain foods. Quality food should always win over the bulky cheaper items you can buy. Always buy the best quality food you can afford. This may mean searching for better value stores or buying in bulk, but its well worth the extra effort.
When you are not eating absolutely everything, you need to make sure that every mouthful of food you do eat is as nutritionally dense as it can be. Make all your food earn its place on your plate by contributing towards all the vital vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients that you require to maintain your health, and hopefully contribute towards your longevity too.
There is a lot of food out there calling itself “diet friendly”, “Keto friendly”, and a host of other catchy titles but don’t be tempted. Most if not all of these foods are processed, and many of them contain so many artificial ingredients that its stretching a point to refer to them as food at all.
They will use up your daily allowance of carbohydrates but contribute little or nothing towards your nutritional needs. They should not play a part in any diet, much less a keto diet where carbs are limited.
Which carbs are your friends on a vegetarian keto diet ?
As a vegetarian, your diet has probably been based on all vegetables including the ones that are carb heavy.
Once you start on the keto diet you should definitely continue to eat vegetables but you will need to ensure that you are eating only the vegetables that are keto friendly. You still need vegetables and they are something we should all be eating daily, keto or not. Despite what you may have heard, a healthy keto diet should contain plenty of vegetables too.
The trick is to use only those vegetables that have the lowest carb count. The lowest carb vegetables are the ones that grow above ground, and these are the ones that you can enjoy and stay in ketosis:
- Brussels Sprouts
- Green Beans
- Peppers especially green or red*
- Tomato *
* Don’t use tons of these vegetables or you will find that you go above your 20g carb allowance. Yellow peppers are best avoided altogether.
That’s quite a list and in small amounts you could certainly add a little onion or garlic. Although onion has a high carb count, the small amount used as a spice can easily be worked into your daily carb limit.
Eggs contain only the smallest amount of carbs and are a great addition to your keto diet. Try to choose free-range if you don’t already do this. Eggs enriched with omega 3 are a great choice too.
Grass fed butter and cream can both be used, and are low carbohydrate. Cheese, especially the hard cheeses are also good and contain vitamin B12 which vegetables don’t provide.
Nuts are a great addition to your diet, but be aware that not all nuts are created equal. Some can be very carb heavy.
It is also very easy to over eat nuts. Just a 2 oz portion of almonds can provide you with 5g of carbs. Eating most of a small bag of nuts could push you over your limit. Nuts can have high levels of Omega 6 fatty acids, so another reason to limit your intake
Some lower carb nuts are:
- Macadamia Nuts
- Brazil Nuts
- Pecan nuts
You probably already use spices, and many of these can still be used to add flavor and interest to your food. Don’t just guess the carb count though. Some, for example Coriander (dried) or cilantro add nearly 2 net carbs per teaspoon while Ginger, allspice and bay leaves all can add more than this for the same amount. Always check before you use.
Some very low carb spices are:
- Caraway Seeds
- Chili Powder
- Coriander Seeds
- Curry Powder
There are few fruits that could be said to be keto friendly, but some are low enough in their carb count that you could enjoy a small amount from time to time.
Chia seeds deserve a mention here as they are great for adding to dishes or as a thickener. They can be used as a basis for many vegetarian keto puddings too, should you want something to satisfy that sweet tooth.
Dark chocolate (above 85%) can also be enjoyed in small amounts.
Which proteins are your friends on a vegetarian keto diet?
Getting enough protein on a vegetarian keto diet is often cited as a reason that this sort of diet cannot be healthy. However, most people overestimate the amount of protein that we need each day.
The keto diet requires a medium intake of protein, and the right amount for your weight which is 0.8g per kilo of weight, or 0.36g per pound. This works out at approximately 55g per day. Nowhere near what some people think we need.
This makes it perfectly achievable to meet your daily protein needs with vegetarian foods only.
Some best sources of vegetable protein are:
- Butter preferably from grass fed cows
As with dairy, eggs make an appearance on both the good carb and good protein lists.
It is possible to meet most of your protein needs with just dairy and eggs but obviously you want a bit more variety in your diet. Certainly any diet that is too restrictive or boring won’t be kept to for long, and you want to avoid this as much as you can.
Other great sources of protein are:
Chances are that you already include this in your diet, and as its low carb you can continue to enjoy it for its protein content too. Just a 1 oz/28g serving will give you 4.9g of protein with only 2g net carbs.
Quorn and meat substitutes
This is also a good choice but check the packet before you buy. Some quorn products have extra ingredients that push the carb count up too high.
There are some quorn meals that definitely hit the spot such as quorn cutlets that provide a very big 11g of protein with just 3g net carbs per cutlet.
Its worth finding a few fake meat products that you like. There are many people who couldn’t manage the vegetarian keto diet without eating some meat substitutes. Gardein, Beyond Meat and Lightlife all make good low carb, high protein ready meals. Again, this is an area where you definitely want to be reading the labels beforehand.
Its always surprising to hear that there are some people who don’t think vegetables provide protein. As a vegetarian you are already aware that they do and here is a list of the most protein rich ones that are also low carb:
- Spinach (Popeye was right)
- Brussels Sprouts
Other sources of Vegetarian Protein
Nutritional yeast contains 3g of protein for each serving, or 14g protein per 1 oz/28g. It adds a cheesy flavor to any food its sprinkled on and is a source of all the B vitamins as well as B12.
Chia seeds contain 44g of protein per 1 oz/28g and only 2g net protein. They also provide 10.9g of fiber per oz/28g so are healthy in more ways than one.
Nuts and seeds
As we saw in the carb section, nuts and seeds can be high in carbs for just a few, so it’s always important to weigh these or know how much protein you’re getting in comparison to the carb load.
For example, Brazil nuts contain 4g of protein per 1 oz/28g, but also 3.4g of carbs. This makes eating an ounce or 28g a healthy choice, but you need to know your level of willpower. Overdo them, and you’ll be way too high on your carb count.
Which fats are your friends on a vegetarian keto diet?
In a few words, all oils are technically vegetarian keto friendly. At 100% fat, they are a vital macro and should represent about 70% of your total daily intake.
However, not all oils are healthy and you need to step away from the processed trans fats.
Avocado oil, although healthy, has a large carb count. The three best oils for keto are:
- Olive oil
- Coconut oil
- MCT oil
These oils have zero carbs and can be used as you require. Add them to salads, fry with them, and use in baking.
If you haven’t heard of MCT oil before, then its time to get acquainted. You can read all about it here MCT oil for keto .This oil is a medium-chain triglyceride that has been shown to enhance ketosis and speed up metabolism.
Its also been shown to improve cognitive function. See this study
As a tasteless oil, its easy to add to your food, but a word of caution – if you haven’t used this oil before you need to introduce it to your diet very gradually. Always follow the instructions on the bottle.
This study shows how MCT oil can reduce appetite, and aid weight loss. You can read more here
- Grass fed Butter
Eggs make an appearance here for the third time, and with good reason. Packed with protein and fats, and very low carb they fit into every category of vegetarian friendly keto foods.
Another food that has made more than one appearance here, and definitely another super food that you should eat regularly.
There are literally thousands of vegetarian keto recipes to choose from that will cater to your individual tastes, eating style and fit in with your budget.
I’m giving you just a few ideas here, but you’ll be able to come up with many more yourself. It’s more than likely that you already are enjoying some great keto meals without realizing they are low carb.
Fried eggs and vegetables. Saute your choice of veg from the low carb list and add an egg or two. Quick and simple.
Avocado with cream cheese. A no cook breakfast that couldn’t be more easy. Great for a day when you don’t feel like eggs.
Tofu scramble. Saute the tofu with olive oil, frozen spinach, onion powder, garlic powder and salt and pepper. Easy enough to enjoy even on a busy morning.
I have to say I’m a huge fan of cauliflower. I love it grated and swiftly fried in olive oil with onion powder, salt and pepper. I often add an avocado to it, or some tofu. As a good source of fiber and low carb, I eat this a few times each week.
Cauliflower grated and cooked until soft and then mashed with some butter and cheese, will give you a plate of mash that puts potato into the shade.
Salads. This hardly needs to be said. A big salad with your favourite items, topped with cheese, or a fried goats cheese. Add olive oil or MCT oil or both and a few nuts and you’re ready to feast.
Roasted veg on top of a salad makes a nice treat too, although a tiny bit more cooking is involved.
Thought you’d never eat pizza again? You’re in for a surprise. Cauliflower makes a great crunchy base and here’s how:
Pre heat the oven to 200c/390f
Line a baking tray with non-stick baking paper
Finely grind one head of cauliflower in a food processor
Cook the cauliflower with 120ml/4 oz water and half a tsp of salt in a frying pan for about 6 minutes, until all the water has evaporated.
Cool, and wrap in a clean cloth, squeeze out all the water.
In a bowl mix the cauliflower, 50g/2oz cheese (goats cheese, but you can experiment) 1 egg and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Form into a soft dough and press it into your baking tray to about 2mm thick.
Bake for about 40 minutes until golden brown.
Turn it over once its cool, and top with whatever you fancy.
Creamy Avocado Egg. Half an avocado chopped, three eggs chopped, two tbsp mayo, 1 tsp lemon juice, I tbsp minced cilantro or parsley (or your favourite herb) salt and pepper. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, keeping it chunky and creamy. Enjoy.
Cauliflower Casserole 1 head of cauliflower chopped, half a cup sour cream, half a cup cream, 1 cup of grated cheese.
Preheat the oven to 180c/350f. Meanwhile, boil the cauliflower for 5 minutes. Put it in a casserole dish with the sour cream, the cream and half of the cheese. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Cook for about 20 minutes until golden brown.
Omelet. The sky’s the limit here. Add cheese, mushrooms, anything and everything you like. Easy and healthy.
Zucchini Lasagna This is amazing and strips of zucchini are used instead of pasta. Follow your favourite lasagna recipe using any low carb veggies and cheese, and you have a very tasty meal on your hands.
Keto zucchini meatless meatballs
- 1 cup/170g grated zucchini
- 1 cup/120g chopped walnuts
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon psyllium husks
- 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Preheat oven to 180c/350f and line a baking tray with baking paper. In a bowl, mix together zucchini, walnuts and salt. Set aside for 5 minutes till the water is absorbed
Add the psyllium and seasoning, and stir until combined. Let this sit for another five minutes.
Form golfball sized balls with your hands and place them on the baking sheet.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the zucchini balls are slightly brown on the outside and firm to the touch.
Serve over zucchini noodles.
The take home message
If you’re still reading, then I’m guessing that you are ready to start your new diet and now you know everything that you need to begin on the path to the new healthier you.
You have all the basic knowledge to make a success of your new diet, and to reach your weight loss or health goals.
It looks like a lot of information to take in at first, but you already know how to make delicious vegetarian food, so it’s just a matter of adjusting your recipes and substituting ingredients to stay keto friendly.
Use the foods here and you will be eating a nutritious balanced diet. As you move along in this journey you will discover other low carb foods that you like, and you will probably get more creative as you learn to cook with them.
Keeping up with your protein should be easy, and there is no need to go above the daily recommended amount. Make sure you’re reaching all your macros for carbs, protein and fat each day. If you’re not too sure what your macros should be then use this keto calculator.
If you find yourself running low on calories, but you’ve used up all your macros for the day then you can add more fat into your diet. You can do this by having a keto style pudding, enjoying a few keto fat bombs – there are more recipes online than you’ll ever need – or simply pour a little more of your favourite oil over your food.
You could also add in butter, for example when you are making cauliflower mash, add a little more than you normally would. Get creative and find ways to incorporate all the fats you need.
If you continue to loose more weight than you would like, its possible that your macros are set too low. Recalculate them, asking for a smaller overall calorie deficit.
Remember to eat! This may sound strange, but a high fat diet is ultra satiating, and you might miss a meal, or be eating less without realizing.
Finally, make absolutely certain that you are eating all the nutrients you need. It can be tricky to manage this on a vegetarian keto diet, but its completely achievable. Always choose nutrient dense real foods.
You’ll reach your weight loss and health goals much sooner than you ever thought possible, all while remaining true to your decision not to include meat in your diet.