How To Be Keto And Vegan

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Written By: Suzanne Kvilhaug

“Everybody’s doing it!”— the ketogenic diet, popularly known as the keto diet was the most searched diet on google in 2018 and is likely to be on the list in 2019. If you’re vegan or prefer to eat mainly plant-based you may have disregarded it because the standard keto diet food lists are far from vegan. As like anything that’s vegan, it’s completely different from the traditional way but it’s possible. Although the science aspect is similar, the list of what you can eat are two entirely different worlds.


What’s the foundation of a keto diet?

The keto diet is high in fat, moderate in protein and low in carbs. And when I say high in fat, I mean HIGH in fat. The most traditional keto diet has 75% of daily calorie intake come from fat, 20% from protein, and 5% from carbs. Most keto diet plans suggest eating between only 20-50 grams of carbs a day. Whoa, how low can you go?!? For reference, one banana has about 27 grams of carbs (relish every single bite!).

Classic keto carries a 4:1 ratio, which means that there are four parts fat for every one part protein and carb. Since fat has a higher caloric content versus protein and carb (fat has 9 calories per gram, while both protein and carb have just 4 calories per gram), 90% of calories come from fat in a classic keto diet, while 6% come from protein, and 4% come from carbs. Seeing those numbers can help you gage how far off or how similar to your current diet a keto diet is. If you’re like me you had to rub your eyes then reread to see if they were playing tricks on you...no, they weren’t. Keep in mind, plans do vary and like other diets, you can tailor it to some extent based on your preferences. No one will be standing over you with a calculator slapping things out of your hand yet the goal is ketosis and that can be difficult to achieve if you eat certain foods.


The objective of a high-fat diet would be?

I don’t follow any set diet but if I had to describe how I eat, it’s closest to the starch solution. So if you eat similar, following any kind of high-fat diet would be extremely tough. I like to test different methods of eating out but a keto diet for those who are healthy and happy eating high-carb diets may rock the boat too much and simply be unnecessary (if it ain’t broke don’t fix it!). If you’re overweight, unhealthy or have personal reasons for wanting to try out keto, then by all means give it a go and “tell me how it was”.

So the keto diet embraces and promotes eating a lot of fat. Why? Because when you start eating enough fat and your body is not getting enough glucose to make energy, it will begin to burn fat instead. The simplest way to explain it is when you deprive your body of carbohydrates, you’re also depriving your body of its ability to keep glycogen stores filled up. When this happens it needs to find another fuel source so your body starts to transition to a metabolic state which is ketosis.


And ketosis means what?

You’ll hear the term ketosis constantly when you’re researching a keto diet plan. By switching your primary fuel source from carbs to fat, the keto diet’s main goal is to convert fat into ketones which become your body’s new fuel source. This process is called ketosis and the result of this is a buildup of molecules called ketones. One major reason some switch to a keto diet is because of how the brain responds to it. As for achieving ketosis, it isn’t easy yet getting kicked out of ketosis is. Ay caramba!


So how will I know if I’m in ketosis?

I’m not knocking the keto diet here, it just sounds like signing up for an intense science experiment that requires endless testing until you get it right. Regarding how long it will take to get into ketosis, for some people it could take 2 days for some it could take up to 14 days. It depends on genetics, size, metabolism and lifestyle. Here are some ways to tell if you’re in ketosis. I can see life in 2026 already...you go out to meet a friend and your first question is “Are you in ketosis?”.

 
 

Is eating vegan and keto safe?

Some experts say yes keto is very safe and some experts say no it’s not. Keep in mind a vegan keto diet is a completely different animal...mainly because it consists of no animal products (ba dum tish!) If you’re looking to go keto and you’re not that knowledgeable about health, meeting with a nutritionist or doctor who knows about keto would be smart. Here’s some insight from a doctor about eating a vegan keto diet.


What can I eat if I’m vegan and keto?

If you want to go vegan and keto your diet will consist of:

  • Lots of plant-based fats

  • Moderate amount of plant-based protein

  • Small amount of carbs


Here’s a good starter list to give you an idea of what foods you can eat on a vegan keto diet. A great resource to have on hand is the book Vegan Keto, written by nutritionist Liz MacDowell.

Nuts and seeds

Almonds

Brazil nuts

Walnuts

Hemp seeds

Macadamia nuts

Chia seeds

Flax seeds

Pumpkin seeds

Vegan protein sources

Tofu

Plant-based protein powder

Seitan

Tempeh

Cashew cheese

Vegan full-fat “dairy”

Vegan cream cheese

Non-starchy vegetables

Broccoli

Cauliflower

Peppers

Mushrooms

Leafy greens

Brussels sprouts

Zucchini


Oils

Olive oil

Nut oil

Coconut oil

MCT oil

Avocado oil

Nut and seed butter

Cashew

Peanut butter

Almond butter

Sunflower butter

Fruit

Blueberries

Blackberries

Raspberries

Strawberries


Coconut

Full-fat coconut milk

Coconut cream

Unsweetened coconut

Fermented foods

Sauerkraut

Kim chi

Sea vegetables

Dulse noodles

Kelp noodles


Plant-based milks

Unsweetened nut and hemp milks

High fat / low sugar fruit

Avocado (Guacamole)