It's one of those equations where the result is often hard to imagine.
A keto diet is high in fats, while a vegan eats mostly plant-based food. Considering that fats are often associated with animal products, you probably can't be a vegan on a ketogenic diet. So, if you’re a vegan and you follow a high-carb diet, switching to a keto diet can be difficult, what with it being low-carb.
However, the one thing that both the vegan and keto diet do have in common is protein. Vegans just need to keep their protein intake moderate to meet keto’s food requirements, which is something easily achievable with plant-based protein shakes and nutrition bars. With such products being easy to measure, you will be able to meet the daily recommended protein consumption.
So, the difficulty lies in the high-fat and low-carb sources. But with careful planning, vegans can benefit from a keto diet.
First things first...
What does it mean to be vegan?
Not eating any item of animal origin is called veganism. The practice offers three potential advantages:
Being vegan is not just about following a specific diet, but embracing a lifestyle.
What is a keto diet?
This is a diet of low-carb, moderate-protein, and high-fat meals.
Fat = 70-75% or 124-133 grams
Protein = 20-25% or 80-100 grams
Carb = 5-10% or 20-40 grams
The numbers will vary based on several factors:
The goal of a ketogenic diet is to put your body into ketosis, a metabolic state that can be achieved by the drastic reduction of carbohydrate intake in exchange for high fat intake. Upon reaching ketosis, your body would burn fat with incredible efficiency so you will have more energy. Your brain will also have an ample supply of energy because fat is turned into ketones in the liver.
With a keto diet, blood sugar and insulin levels will have massive drops. Combined with increased energy and ketones, and efficient metabolism, you can expect numerous health benefits.
So, a vegan doesn't eat animal products but a keto diet is all about high-fat consumption, including full-fat dairy, butter, and meats. This begs the question: how can a vegan go on a keto diet?
By eating plant-based products that are high in fat.
Avocados, coconut oil, nuts, and seeds are just a few examples. From these alone, it is easy to see that vegan and ketogenic diet can go hand in hand. Careful planning of your meals is all that is needed.
But what about your protein intake?
When you're on a keto diet, however, your source of plant-based protein is further reduced. Remember that the ketogenic diet only requires moderate protein, eliminating the most potent sources of protein like lentils, beans, and peas.
Don’t worry, though. There are other options available.
How vegans can get enough protein on a keto diet
There are reasons that the items listed above are a recommended source of protein for the vegan keto diet. We’ll discuss this further later.
Now, you may be wondering why nuts and seeds are excluded. It’s because they are packed with proteins but also have high carb content. Because the keto diet requires moderate protein and low carbs, eating nuts and seeds for protein is not ideal for a keto diet. Almonds, for example, have ~21g of protein and 22g of total carbs/100g. Pumpkin seeds, on the other hand, have ~30g of protein and 54g of total carbs/100g.
What makes the following sources of protein excellent for a vegan on a keto diet?
This vegan meat substitute is made from wheat gluten, which is why it is also known as wheat meat. It is mixed with garlic, ginger, seaweed, and soy sauce/tamaril.
It's made from soybeans and known for its protein and calcium content. With the ability to absorb flavors from marinades and spices, a bland tofu can transform into a tasty treat. It can be cooked firm and chewy, making it similar to the texture of meat when thoroughly pressed. Be sure to choose extra-firm tofu, freeze, and then press.
This is a firmer version of tofu with a more grainy texture. Made from fermented soybeans, it makes a good substitute for ground beef and fish. Unlike with tofu, you don't need to press tempeh. But you may need to steam it for a few minutes if it tastes a bit bitter. You can slice, dice, or grind Tempeh to prepare it.
Now, these ingredients come with a warning:
Seitan has high gluten content and is not recommended for people sensitive to gluten. Too much tofu, meanwhile, can impair the functions of your thyroid, as it contains goitrogens.
It’s a good thing there's one more ingredient you can rely on to provide you with enough protein when you're on a vegan keto diet. That is vegan/plant-based protein powder. It has enough protein and carbs to keep you on the right track to a ketogenic diet. You can use it to make a protein shake or mix it with your vegan recipe.
For a more balanced keto diet, stock up on keto supplements. Since different people have different nutrition requirements, do your research. Read up on products, visit their homepage, and check out reviews.