The vegan lifestyle continues to grow in popularity as more people become aware of the ethical, environmental, and health benefits of avoiding animal products. Some vegans are now exploring an intersection with the ketogenic (“keto”) diet – a very low carb, high fat diet that pushes the body into ketosis. What are the pros and cons of combining veganism with keto? Here are some thoughts.
What is a Vegan Keto Diet?
A vegan keto diet is a version of the ketogenic diet that eliminates animal products. It focuses on:
- High fat from plant-based oils like coconut oil, avocado oil, nuts, and seeds
- Very low net carbs – usually under 50g/day
- Moderate protein, usually from legumes, tofu, seitan, and quinoa
The goal is to reach ketosis, where your body burns fat for fuel instead of carbs. This can promote weight loss and has been researched for epilepsy, diabetes, and neurological disorders (health benefits).
However, there are challenges to succeeding with a vegan keto diet.
Challenges of a Vegan Keto Diet
Going vegan keto requires careful planning to get enough fat without carbs. Some challenges include:
- Lower fat options. Animal products like cheese, butter, and fatty meats are easy keto fat sources. Vegan keto limits options.
- Carbs in plants. Many healthy plant foods like fruits, starchy veggies, grains, and legumes are high-carb and limited on keto.
- Nutrient deficiencies. The diet is restrictive and needs planning to avoid deficiencies in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and protein.
- Sustainability. Low-carb, high-fat diets long-term may increase health risks.
Tips for Following a Vegan Keto Diet
If you want to try vegan keto, here are some tips:
- Choose high-fat plant foods like nuts, seeds, avocados, coconut, olive oil, vegan butter, and nut cheeses.
- Eat plenty of low-carb veggies like leafy greens, zucchini, eggplant, asparagus, tomatoes, cucumber, etc.
- Moderate protein sources like tofu, tempeh, seitan, edamame, etc.
- Use vegan protein powder shakes or bars to help meet protein needs.
- Consider a multivitamin or omega-3 supplement.
- Meal prep vegan keto recipes to have quick options available.
- Drink plenty of water and electrolytes like sodium, potassium, and magnesium.
- Monitor how you feel – adjust carbs if needed for sustainable energy.
Here is a sample day of vegan keto meals and snacks:
Breakfast: Tofu scramble with kale, tomato, avocado + vegan keto smoothie
Snack: Olives + raw veggie sticks with guacamole
Lunch: Burrito bowl with sautéed veggies, cauliflower rice, black beans, avocado, salsa
Snack: Vegan keto protein bar
Dinner: Walnut lentil taco meat + romaine lettuce taco shells + roasted veggies
Dessert: Berries with coconut cream
Pros and Cons of Vegan Keto
Below is a comparison of the potential benefits and downsides of pairing veganism with a keto diet:
- Weight loss from ketosis
- Reduced appetite and cravings
- Improved mental clarity and focus
- Lowered inflammation
- Ethical – no consumption of animal products
- Difficult to sustain long term
- Risk of nutritional deficiencies
- Low energy and fatigue
- Keto flu symptoms
- Limited food choices without proper planning
- Increased cost if relying on specialty products
Bottom Line: Keto Vegan Lifestyle
The vegan diet on its own offers immense health benefits by focusing on whole plant foods. Pairing it with keto may help some people achieve faster weight loss results. However, the restrictive nature makes it hard to sustain long-term.
It’s best to meet with a dietitian to help formulate a personalized vegan keto plan that ensures you get all the macro- and micronutrients you need. Track your energy levels and nutrients using a food journal app. Be prepared to modify the diet to increase carbs or calories if you feel fatigued or hungry.
Overall, vegan keto requires diligent meal planning and supplementation to avoid deficiencies. While promising for some health conditions, it may be too restrictive for everyday life. Focus on whole food plant-based nutrition for a sustainable, ethical vegan lifestyle.