Vegetarian Keto: Food List, Meal Plan, Benefits, and Cons 

Vegetarian Keto combines a vegetarian and keto diet to induce ketosis through vegetarian foods.

If you’re currently vegetarian and want the benefits of ketosis, this comprehensive guide will provide a food list and meal plan and discuss the benefits and drawbacks of Vegetarian Keto.

Key Takeaways:

  • Vegetarian Keto follows the keto macros to induce ketosis through vegetarian foods. 
  • Plant-based fats, dairy, eggs, low-carb vegetables, and fruits are the primary calorie sources.
  • Meat products, high-carb fruits and vegetables, grains, legumes, refined oils, and sugary foods are prohibited.
  • Vegetarian Keto has benefits for weight loss, heart health, diabetes, chronic diseases, and cancer. 
  • It is prone to nutritional deficiencies, lacking meat products, and some plants may contain antinutrients.

Table of Contents:

How Vegetarian Keto Works

Vegetarian Keto combines vegetarianism and keto to induce ketosis by eating vegetarian foods.

This diet relies on dairy products and plant-based fats to induce ketosis, which may seem challenging but is doable, especially if you’re already following a vegetarian diet.

Vegetarian Keto still follows the following macro ratio:

  • Carbohydrates: 5-10%
  • Protein: 15-20%
  • Fats: 70-75%

Vegetarian Keto Food List

vegetarian keto foods

When considering the Vegetarian Keto food list, there are two things to consider: they should fit in the standards of both diets and be within your keto macro. 

Here are some of the Vegetarian Keto food list, along with their carbohydrates, protein, and fat content:

CategoryFood OptionsCarbohydrateProteinFat
Plant-based fatsAvocado12g per avocado2g per avocado21g per avocado
Olive Oil (1 tbsp)0g0g14g
Coconut Oil (1 tbsp)0g0g14g
Nuts and Seeds (1 ounce): Almonds, walnuts, pecans, Brazil, macadamia, hazelnuts, pilis4-12g4-6g9-18g
ProteinEggs (large)1g6g 6g
Tofu (100g)2g8g5g
Tempeh (100g)9g19g11g
Seitan (100g)9g21g1g
Dairy ProductsCheese (1 ounce): Feta, gouda, mozzarella, Swiss, cheddar, cottage, brie1g 7g9g 
Greek Yogurt (6 ounces)7g15g6g
Butter0g0.1g11.5g
Non-Starchy VegetablesLeafy Greens (1 cup): Spinach, kale, and Swiss chard1-2g1-2g0g
Cruciferous Vegetables (1 cup): Broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts3-6g1-3g0-1g
Low-carb FruitsBerries (1 cup)10-15g1g0.5g
BeveragesCoffee, tea, water0-0.4g0-0.1g0g
Unsweetened almond milk (1 cup)3g0.4g3g
Alcohol without hidden carbs (e.g. Vodka)0g0g0g

Foods to Avoid

  • Meat products: Red meat, poultry, seafood, processed meats, organ meats, deli meats, animal broth
  • High-carb vegetables: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, butternut squash, peas, corn, acorn squash, parsnips, plantains
  • Legumes: Chickpeas, lentils, black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, white beans, fava beans, green peas, edamame, lima beans
  • Grains: Wheat, rice, quinoa, barley, oats, buckwheat, millet, couscous, farro, sorghum
  • High-sugar fruits: Bananas, grapes, mangoes, pineapple, papaya, cherries, apples, pears, oranges, kiwi
  • Processed and sugary foods: Candy, cookies, cakes, pastries, ice cream, sweetened yogurts, sodas, energy drinks
  • High-carb dairy: Regular milk, flavored milk alternatives, sweetened creamers.
  • Starchy foods: White bread, pasta, cereals, crackers, chips, pretzels, pizza, bagels
  • High-carb sauces and condiments: ketchup, barbecue sauce, maple syrup, teriyaki sauce, sweet chili sauce
  • Processed vegetable oils: Soybean oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, peanut oil

Vegetarian Keto Meal Plan

DayBreakfastLunchDinner
MondayScrambled tofu with spinach and olive oilGreek salad with feta, olives, cucumber, tomatoes, olive oil dressing, and scrambled eggsCauliflower rice stir-fry with tofu, broccoli, and bell peppers in coconut oil
TuesdayAvocado and chia seed pudding with scrambled eggsZucchini noodles with pesto sauce, cherry tomatoes, topped with boiled eggsStuffed bell peppers with cheese, spinach, and mushrooms
WednesdayKeto smoothie with unsweetened almond milk, berries, and protein powderEggplant lasagna with ricotta and low-carb marinara sauceStir-fried tempeh with asparagus, sesame oil, and scrambled eggs
ThursdayGreek yogurt parfait with berries, crushed nuts, and a sliced boiled eggSpinach and feta omelet with a side of avocadoPortobello mushroom caps stuffed with cream cheese and spinach
FridayAlmond flour pancakes with sugar-free syrup, strawberries, and a boiled eggCabbage and tofu stir-fry in coconut oilGrilled halloumi cheese with low-carb vegetable skewers
SaturdayChia seed and flaxseed porridge with unsweetened almond milkCaprese salad with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, basil, balsamic vinegar, and a simple omeletStir-fried seitan with cauliflower, broccoli, and olive oil
SundayKeto-friendly omelet muffins with spinach, mushrooms, and cheeseAvocado and walnut salad with mixed greens, lemon vinaigrette, and a side of scrambled eggsCabbage rolls stuffed with tofu, cauliflower rice, tomato sauce

Benefits of Vegetarian Keto

vegetarian keto diet

Weight Loss

The Vegetarian Keto diet induces weight loss through ketosis, where the body uses fat for energy1 rather than glucose. This process promotes fat loss and can contribute to overall weight reduction.

Moreover, keto has been proven to regulate appetite,2 which helps prevent overconsumption. 

Reduced Blood Sugar Levels

A key advantage of the Vegetarian Keto diet is its impact on blood sugar levels.

By minimizing carbohydrate consumption, the diet helps stabilize blood sugar,3 making it beneficial for individuals with insulin resistance4 or those aiming to manage diabetes.

Improves Heart Health

The Keto diet has been proven to improve heart health by managing lipid levels.5

Moreover, foods like avocados and olive oil, rich in monounsaturated fats, may improve cardiovascular health6 by positively influencing cholesterol levels and inflammation.

Prevents Chronic Diseases

Chronic diseases are often a result of chronic inflammation, and both vegetarian and keto diets have anti-inflammatory properties that prevent chronic inflammation. 

There is evidence of keto’s benefit for Alzheimer’s disease,7 arthritis,8 diabetes,9 heart diseases,10 obesity,11 and autoimmune diseases.12

May Lower Cancer Risk

Both vegetarian and keto diets have been proven effective in lowering the risk of cancer and even as a therapeutic approach. There are studies supporting keto’s anti-tumor effects13 and its ability to improve the prognosis of cancer patients.14

Moreover, the vegetarian diet lowers the risk of cancer in women,15 with specific evidence on gastric and colorectal cancers.16

Challenges and Risks

Potential for Nutrient Deficiency

The Vegetarian Keto diet, particularly when not well-planned, may lead to nutrient deficiencies.

Since the diet restricts certain food groups, its followers are prone to developing deficiencies in vitamin B12, protein, calcium, and iron.17

Taking supplements may be necessary to prevent these deficiencies. 

Keto Adaptation Symptoms

During the initial stages of adopting the Vegetarian Keto diet, individuals may experience temporary symptoms, including fatigue, irritability, headaches, and dizziness,5 collectively known as “keto flu.” 

These symptoms are temporary and usually subside as the body adapts to using ketones for energy.

May Be Too Restrictive For Others

Vegetarian Keto may not be suitable for specific populations, including the following:

  • Children
  • Pregnant and lactating women
  • People with an eating disorder history
  • People with underlying health conditions

It’s crucial to talk to your primary healthcare provider if you plan on doing any diet, especially ones that restrict certain food groups.

Plants Contain Antinutrients

While plant-based, some foods on the Vegetarian Keto diet contain antinutrients. These compounds, like lectins, tannins, oxalates, and phytates, can interfere with nutrient absorption.18 

Balancing nutrient intake, preparing food, and choosing plant foods wisely is essential.

How to Follow a Vegetarian Keto Diet

  1. Plan Your Macronutrient Ratios: Determine your daily macronutrient ratios. Calculate your macros based on your required daily calorie intake. Following the 5-10% carbs, 15-20% protein, and 70-75% fats ratio is crucial to maintain ketosis.
  2. Place Importance to Adherence: Sticking to the allowed foods and avoiding prohibited foods is vital in following this diet. Plan your meals strategically to fit your goals and preferences.
  3. Watch Your Carbs: Almost all vegetables have carbs, so choosing suitable vegetables and proper portioning will help you maintain your allowed carb intake. 
  4. Stay Hydrated: Ketosis often accompanies decreased body water due to glycogen depletion, making hydration a helpful habit. 
  5. Consider Supplementation: Consult your healthcare provider for supplement recommendations based on your needs.
  6. Monitor Ketosis: Ketosis differs per individual, and monitoring ketone levels is necessary to know the adjustments needed in your current diet. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can you be a vegetarian on keto?

Yes, you can still achieve ketosis with a vegetarian diet, as long as you watch your keto macros properly.

Is keto or vegetarian better for weight loss?

Both have benefits for weight loss, but the keto diet shows more significant results in a shorter period than the vegetarian diet.

Can you be vegetarian and not eat carbs?

It’s impossible to be a vegetarian and not eat carbs as almost all plants have carbs, but you can follow a low-carb vegetarian diet. 

What vegetables are keto-friendly?

Low-carb and non-starchy vegetables are best for keto. These include leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables. 

References

1Dhillon KK, Gupta S. Biochemistry, Ketogenesis. [Updated 2023 Feb 6]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK493179/

2Roekenes, J., & Martins, C. (2021). Ketogenic diets and appetite regulation. Current opinion in clinical nutrition and metabolic care, 24(4), 359–363. https://doi.org/10.1097/MCO.0000000000000760

3Alarim RA, Alasmre FA, Alotaibi HA, Alshehri MA, Hussain SA. Effects of the Ketogenic Diet on Glycemic Control in Diabetic Patients: Meta-Analysis of Clinical Trials. Cureus. 2020 Oct 5;12(10):e10796. doi: 10.7759/cureus.10796. PMID: 33163300; PMCID: PMC7641470.

4Paoli, A., Bianco, A., Moro, T., Mota, J. F., & Coelho-Ravagnani, C. F. (2023). The Effects of Ketogenic Diet on Insulin Sensitivity and Weight Loss, Which Came First: The Chicken or the Egg? Nutrients, 15(14). https://doi.org/10.3390/nu15143120

5Batch, J. T., Lamsal, S. P., Adkins, M., Sultan, S., & Ramirez, M. N. (2020). Advantages and Disadvantages of the Ketogenic Diet: A Review Article. Cureus, 12(8). https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.9639

6Pacheco, L. S., Li, Y., Rimm, E. B., Manson, J. E., Sun, Q., Rexrode, K., & Hu, F. B. (2022). Avocado Consumption and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease in US Adults. Journal of the American Heart Association: Cardiovascular and Cerebrovascular Disease, 11(7). https://doi.org/10.1161/JAHA.121.024014

7Hersant, H., & Grossberg, G. (2022). The Ketogenic Diet and Alzheimer’s Disease. The journal of nutrition, health & aging, 26(6), 606–614. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12603-022-1807-7

8Ciaffi, J., Mitselman, D., Mancarella, L., Brusi, V., Lisi, L., Ruscitti, P., Cipriani, P., Meliconi, R., Giacomelli, R., Borghi, C., & Ursini, F. (2021). The Effect of Ketogenic Diet on Inflammatory Arthritis and Cardiovascular Health in Rheumatic Conditions: A Mini Review. Frontiers in Medicine, 8. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmed.2021.792846

9Tinguely, D., Gross, J., & Kosinski, C. (2021). Efficacy of Ketogenic Diets on Type 2 Diabetes: A Systematic Review. Current Diabetes Reports, 21(9). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11892-021-01399-z

10Dyńka, D., Kowalcze, K., Charuta, A., & Paziewska, A. (2023). The Ketogenic Diet and Cardiovascular Diseases. Nutrients, 15(15). https://doi.org/10.3390/nu15153368

11Dashti, H. M., Mathew, T. C., Hussein, T., Asfar, S. K., Behbahani, A., Khoursheed, M. A., Al-Sayer, H. M., Bo-Abbas, Y. Y., & Al-Zaid, N. S. (2004). Long-term effects of a ketogenic diet in obese patients. Experimental & Clinical Cardiology, 9(3), 200-205. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2716748/

12Hirschberger, S., Strauß, G., Effinger, D., Marstaller, X., Ferstl, A., Müller, M. B., Wu, T., Hübner, M., Rahmel, T., Mascolo, H., Exner, N., Heß, J., Kreth, F. W., Unger, K., & Kreth, S. (2021). Very‐low‐carbohydrate diet enhances human T‐cell immunity through immunometabolic reprogramming. EMBO Molecular Medicine, 13(8). https://doi.org/10.15252/emmm.202114323

13Talib, W. H., Mahmod, A. I., Kamal, A., Rashid, H. M., D. Alashqar, A. M., Khater, S., Jamal, D., & Waly, M. (2021). Ketogenic Diet in Cancer Prevention and Therapy: Molecular Targets and Therapeutic Opportunities. Current Issues in Molecular Biology, 43(2), 558-589. https://doi.org/10.3390/cimb43020042

14Egashira, R., Matsunaga, M., Miyake, A., Hotta, S., Nagai, N., Yamaguchi, C., Takeuchi, M., Moriguchi, M., Tonari, S., Nakano, M., Saito, H., & Hagihara, K. (2023). Long-Term Effects of a Ketogenic Diet for Cancer. Nutrients, 15(10), 2334. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu15102334

15Tantamango-Bartley, Y., Jaceldo-Siegl, K., Fan, J., & Fraser, G. (2013). Vegetarian diets and the incidence of cancer in a low-risk population. Cancer epidemiology, biomarkers & prevention : a publication of the American Association for Cancer Research, cosponsored by the American Society of Preventive Oncology, 22(2), 286–294. https://doi.org/10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-12-1060

16Bai, T., Peng, J., Zhu, X., & Wu, C. (2023). Vegetarian diets and the risk of gastrointestinal cancers: A meta-analysis of observational studies. European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology, 35(11), 1244-1252. https://doi.org/10.1097/MEG.0000000000002643

17Clarys, P., Deliens, T., Huybrechts, I., Deriemaeker, P., Vanaelst, B., Keyzer, W. D., Hebbelinck, M., & Mullie, P. (2014). Comparison of Nutritional Quality of the Vegan, Vegetarian, Semi-Vegetarian, Pesco-Vegetarian and Omnivorous Diet. Nutrients, 6(3), 1318-1332. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu6031318

18Petroski, W., & Minich, D. M. (2020). Is There Such a Thing as “Anti-Nutrients”? A Narrative Review of Perceived Problematic Plant Compounds. Nutrients, 12(10). https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12102929

Mag. Stephan Lederer, MSc.

Mag. Stephan Lederer, MSc. is an author and blogger from Austria who writes in-depth content about health and nutrition. His book series on Interval Fasting landed #1 on the bestseller list in the German Amazon marketplace in 15 categories.

Stephan is a true man of science, having earned multiple diplomas and master's degrees in various fields. He has made it his mission to bridge the gap between conventional wisdom and scientific knowledge. He precisely reviews the content and sources of this blog for currency and accuracy.

Click on the links above to visit his author and about me pages.

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