Contact Us

Can You Follow A Vegetarian Keto Diet?

Published November 20, 2018 (Revised: October 25, 2019)
Kate Sullivan

Written By: Kate Sullivan, MS

Kate holds a MS in Business Psychology and is currently a PHD researcher in Well-Being and Performance Psychology.

how-to-stay-vegetarian-on-a-ketogenic-diet
<script type="application/ld+json"> { "@context":"http://schema.org", "@type":"BlogPosting", "author": { "@type": "Person", "name": "Kate Sullivan, MS" }, "publisher": { "@type": "Organization", "name": "Warrior Made", "logo": { "@type": "ImageObject", "url": "https://www.warriormade.com", "image": "https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/media/public/2019/10/vegetarian-keto-thumbnail-0020.jpg" } }, "headline":"Can You Follow A Vegetarian Keto Diet?", "datePublished":"2018-11-20", "dateModified": "2019-10-25", "description":"Can combining two diets into one get you faster results? Here’s why a vegetarian keto diet probably isn’t the easiest way to lose weight.", "image": "https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/media/public/2019/10/vegetarian-keto-thumbnail-0020.jpg" } </script> <script type="application/ld+json"> { "@context": "https://schema.org", "@type": "FAQPage", "mainEntity": [{ "@type": "Question", "name": "Can vegetarians do the keto diet?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "The short answer: Yes, but your options for food will be more restricted than if you were on a traditional keto diet.<br />The longer answer: Yes, but each diet has a specific goal, and they are completely different. Looking at the differences between the two diets, which foods you can eat, and the benefits and potential downsides of doing both diets at the same time can help you decide if combining diets is right for you." } }, { "@type": "Question", "name": "What’s the difference between being keto and a vegetarian?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "Here’s the difference:<br />The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, moderate protein, low-carb nutritional approach. The main goal of the diet is to induce a natural fat-burning state called ketosis, where your body runs on ketones, which are a natural compound produced by your liver from stored fat. Ketones are burned for energy instead of glucose. Many people who use the ketogenic diet do so to lose weight.<br />A vegetarian diet* is one where you abstain from eating meats like beef, poultry, and pork(4). This is the primary goal of being a vegetarian, which makes it much different from typical keto. The three most common reasons people adopt a vegetarian diet are for health benefits, for moral reasons, or due to religious beliefs." } }, { "@type": "Question", "name": "Which foods can you eat on each diet?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "Keto diet<br />Common foods include:<br />Fat: Full-fat dairy, nuts, avocados, coconut oil, olive oil and naturally occurring fat found in meats like beef or fish.<br />Protein: Animal products like chicken, pork, beef, fish, and eggs.<br />Carbs: Leafy green vegetables and low-carb fruits like berries.Vegetarian diet<br />Common foods include:<br />Large amounts of grains (wheat, corn, rice).<br />Liberal amounts of fruits and vegetables.<br />Legumes, like beans and lentils.<br />Nuts and seeds." } }, { "@type": "Question", "name": "How does a vegetarian go keto?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "A vegetarian goes keto by keeping carbohydrate intake low (below 50 grams per day), and achieves this without consuming any meat.<br />Meat plays a large role in the keto diet, so combining the two may be difficult. 20-25 percent of your daily calories come from protein on a traditional keto diet, and most of that usually comes from meat.<br />If you want to be a keto-vegetarian, you’ll need to replace those calories you’re cutting out by not eating meat with plant-based protein sources*. You can’t replace protein with carbs, because you won’t be able to get into ketosis." } }, { "@type": "Question", "name": "What should vegetarian keto dieters eat?", "acceptedAnswer": { "@type": "Answer", "text": "Here are some foods that will likely be staples of your diet if you choose to be a keto-vegetarian. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but a good starting point.<br />Fats: avocado, coconut, coconut oil, olive oil, seeds, and nuts. If you aren’t a vegan, you can also consume dairy products.<br />Protein: nuts, dairy products that are high in protein like plain greek yogurt and cheese, tempeh, edamame, hemp seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, cruciferous vegetables, sea vegetables, greens powders, nutritional or brewer’s yeast, and plant-based protein powders.<br />Carbs: spinach, broccoli, berries, mushrooms, kale, brussels sprouts.<br />Keep in mind: each food listed above isn’t comprised of just one macronutrient. Cheese, for example, isn’t just made of fat. Even spinach has a small amount of protein in it. <br />This is important to highlight if you’re keeping track of macros—you don’t have to count, but it might help—on a keto diet. Read food labels or track what you eat with an app." } }] } </script> <article> <div> <ul> <li><a href="#section1">Can Vegetarians Do The Keto Diet?</a></li> <li><a href="#section2">What’s the Difference Between Being Keto and Being Vegetarian?</a></li> <li><a href="#section3">Which Foods Can You Eat on Each Diet?</a></li> <li><a href="#section4">How Does a Vegetarian Go Keto?</a></li> <li><a href="#section5">What Should Vegetarian Keto Dieters Eat?</a></li> <li><a href="#section6">Benefits of a Keto-Vegetarian Diet</a></li> <li><a href="#section7">Potential Drawbacks of a Keto Vegetarian Diet</a></li> <li><a href="#section8">Vegetarian Keto Diet: Wrap-Up</a></li> </ul> </div> <section> <p>When most people think of keto, they think about eating steak and bacon. It’s unlikely that you’d associate being a vegetarian with being keto. On the surface, the two diets are entirely different. Keto dieters eat meat; vegetarians do not. </p> <p>But the two diets actually do share a few similarities.</p> <p>For example: both encourage you to eat liberal amounts of veggies (believe it or not, keto dieters don’t just eat bacon and steak for every meal). And both are proven methods that can help you lose weight<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26138004" rel="nofollow noreferrer">1</a></sup> <sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6371871/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">2</a></sup>.</p> <p>Naturally, this may cause you to wonder: <i>Can you follow a vegetarian keto diet? And, if you combine the two diets, will you get better results?</i></p> <p>Here’s everything you need to know about going on a vegetarian keto diet.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section1"> <h2>Can vegetarians do the keto diet?</h2> <p><i>The short answer</i>: Yes, but your options for food will be more restricted than if you were on a traditional <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/keto-101-a-beginners-guide-to-keto" rel="noreferrer">keto diet</a>.</p> <p><i>The longer answer</i>: Yes, but each diet has a specific goal, and they are completely different. Looking at the differences between the two diets, which foods you can eat, and the benefits and potential downsides of doing both diets at the same time can help you decide if combining diets is right for you.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/vegetarian-vs-keto-0020.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/vegetarian-vs-keto-0020.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/vegetarian-vs-keto-0020.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/vegetarian-vs-keto-LR-0020.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="vegetarian-vs-keto"> </picture> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section2"> <h2>What’s the difference between being keto and a vegetarian?</h2> <p>Here’s the difference:</p> <ul> <li>The <strong>ketogenic diet</strong> is a high-fat, moderate protein, low-carb nutritional approach. The main goal of the diet is to induce a natural fat-burning state called ketosis, where your body runs on ketones, which are a natural compound produced by your liver from stored fat. Ketones are burned for energy instead of glucose<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10634967" rel="nofollow noreferrer">3</a></sup>. Many people who use the ketogenic diet do so to lose weight.</li> <li>A <strong>vegetarian diet</strong>* is one where you abstain from eating meats like beef, poultry, and pork<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26707634" rel="nofollow noreferrer">4</a></sup>. This is the <i>primary goal</i> of being a vegetarian, which makes it much different from typical keto. The three most common reasons people adopt a vegetarian diet are for health benefits, for moral reasons, or due to religious beliefs<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4871106/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">5</a></sup>. </li> </ul> <p>*There are different types of vegetarian diets. See “vegetarian diet” in the section below for more information.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section3"> <h2>Which foods can you eat on each diet?</h2> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/ketogenic-food-0020.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/ketogenic-food-0020.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/ketogenic-food-0020.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/ketogenic-food-LR-0020.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="ketogenic-food"> </picture> <h3>Keto diet</h3> <p>Common foods include<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6251269/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">6</a></sup>:</p> <ul> <li><strong>Fat</strong>: Full-fat dairy, nuts, avocados, coconut oil, olive oil and naturally occurring fat found in meats like beef or fish.</li> <li><strong>Protein</strong>: Animal products like chicken, pork, beef, fish, and eggs.</li> <li><strong>Carbs</strong>: Leafy green vegetables and <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/can-you-have-fruit-on-keto" rel="noreferrer">low-carb fruits</a> like berries.</li> </ul> <p>The ketogenic diet is a high-fat, low-carb diet. It’s generally broken down into a 70 percent fat, 20-25 percent protein, and 5-10 percent carbohydrate <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/why-you-should-be-calculating-your-macros" rel="noreferrer">macronutrient split</a>. (Think of macronutrients, or ‘<i>macros</i>’, as the nutritional building blocks of foods we eat.)</p> <p><i>This is important to understand</i>: these non-carb macro foods make up the bulk of your diet because they help you restrict carb intake to between 20 and 50 grams per day. This is approximately the number of carbs you need to eat to induce ketosis<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499830/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">7</a></sup>.</p> <p>How long it takes to <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/87-things-to-avoid-on-the-keto-diet" rel="noreferrer">get into ketosis</a> is different for each person. But if you don’t eat very few carbs, it will be difficult, if not impossible.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/vegetarian-meal-0020.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/vegetarian-meal-0020.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/vegetarian-meal-0020.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/vegetarian-meal-LR-0020.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="vegetarian-meal"> </picture> <h3>Vegetarian diet</h3> <p>Common foods include<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16441942" rel="nofollow noreferrer">8</a></sup>:</p> <ul> <li>Large amounts of grains (wheat, corn, rice).</li> <li>Liberal amounts of fruits and vegetables.</li> <li>Legumes, like beans and lentils.</li> <li>Nuts and seeds.</li> </ul> <p>There are different types of vegetarian diets. Here’s a short explanation of three of the most common ones<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26707634" rel="nofollow noreferrer">9</a></sup>:</p> <ul> <li><strong>Lacto-ovo-vegetarians</strong> eat lots of fruits and vegetables, but also consume dairy products and, sometimes, eggs. (When someone tells you they’re a vegetarian, this is likely the version they are referring to.)</li> <li><strong>Vegans</strong> abstain from any food derived from animals. Meat, eggs, dairy products, and even honey are all examples of things vegans don’t eat.</li> <li><strong>Pesco-vegetarians</strong>, or ‘<i>pescetarians</i>’, eat a similar diet to a lacto-ovo vegetarian. But they may also sometimes eat fish.</li> </ul> <p>Unlike the ketogenic diet, there is not one specific macronutrient split you must follow on any version of the vegetarian diet (though you can surely find some guidelines). Your goal is to avoid eating meat, not to induce ketosis.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section4"> <h2>How does a vegetarian go keto?</h2> <p>A vegetarian goes keto by keeping carbohydrate intake low (below 50 grams per day), and achieves this without consuming any meat.</p> <p>Meat plays a large role in the keto diet, so combining the two may be difficult. 20-25 percent of your daily calories come from protein on a traditional keto diet, and most of that usually comes from meat.</p> <p>If you want to be a keto-vegetarian, you’ll need to replace those calories you’re cutting out by not eating meat with plant-based protein sources*. You can’t replace protein with carbs, because you won’t be able to get into ketosis. </p> <p>(See section “What should vegetarian keto dieters eat?” below for plant-based protein examples.)</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section5"> <h2>What should vegetarian keto dieters eat?</h2> <p>Here are some foods that will likely be staples of your diet if you choose to be a keto-vegetarian. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but a good starting point.</p> <ul> <li><strong>Fats</strong>: avocado, coconut, coconut oil, olive oil, seeds, and nuts. If you aren’t a vegan, you can also consume dairy products.</li> <li><strong>Protein</strong>: <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/the-best-nuts-for-keto" rel="noreferrer">nuts</a>, dairy products that are high in protein like plain greek yogurt and cheese, <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/tempeh-what-is-it-and-why-its-healthy" rel="noreferrer">tempeh</a>, edamame, hemp seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, cruciferous vegetables, sea vegetables, greens powders, nutritional or brewer’s yeast, and plant-based <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/protein-powder-is-for-more-than-just-body-builders" rel="noreferrer">protein powders</a>.</li> <li><strong>Carbs</strong>: spinach, broccoli, berries, mushrooms, kale, brussels sprouts.</li> </ul> <p><i>Keep in mind</i>: each food listed above isn’t comprised of just one macronutrient. Cheese, for example, isn’t just made of fat<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/dairy-and-egg-products/8/2" rel="nofollow noreferrer">10</a></sup>. Even spinach has a small amount of protein in it<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2627/2" rel="nofollow noreferrer">11</a></sup>. </p> <p>This is important to highlight if you’re keeping track of macros—you don’t have to count, but it might help—on a keto diet. Read food labels or track what you eat with an app.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section6"> <h2>Benefits of a keto-vegetarian diet</h2> <p>The health benefits of each diet may help explain why they’re so popular.</p> <ul> <li><strong>Both diets can help promote weight loss</strong>: A 2016 study from the <a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26138004" rel="nofollow noreferrer"><i>Journal of General Internal Medicine</i></a> said a vegetarian diet has “significant weight reduction benefits” for both losing weight and keeping it off. Along the same lines, keto (or any low carb, high protein diet) is a proven method for reducing body fat<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499830/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">12</a></sup>.</li> <li><strong>On both diets, you’re likely taking in lots of micronutrients</strong>: Keto dieters and vegetarians eat liberal amount of vegetables, which are packed with <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/do-micronutrients-matter-as-much-as-macronutrients/" rel="noreferrer">micronutrients</a>. These vitamins and minerals contain powerful antioxidants (compounds that prevent you from getting sick) and help reduce inflammation<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3649719/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">13</a></sup>.</li> <li><strong>Both diets can help protect against diseases</strong>: Since vegetarian diets generally lead to an increase in the amount of beneficial plant nutrients (vitamins and minerals) one consumes, it’s considered a useful way to reduce the risk of cancer<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3048091/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">14</a></sup>. Similarly, studies show a keto diet, when combined with other interventions, may help treat some forms of cancer<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6375425/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">15</a></sup>.</li> <li><strong>Both diets are high in fiber</strong>: Both diets promote eating liberal amounts of <a target="_blank" href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/diet/keto-fiber-foods-5-fiber-rich-foods-to-add" rel="noreferrer">fiber-rich</a> vegetables. Those who eat high-fiber diets are at significantly lower risks for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and obesity<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19335713" rel="nofollow noreferrer">16</a></sup>.</li> </ul> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/keto-vegetarian-health-0020.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/keto-vegetarian-health-0020.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/keto-vegetarian-health-0020.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/keto-vegetarian-health-LR-0020.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="keto-vegetarian-health"> </picture> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section7"> <h2>Potential drawbacks of a keto-vegetarian diet</h2> <p>These reasons might show you why combining the two diets may not be a great idea.</p> <ul> <li><strong>You’re at an increased risk for nutritional deficiencies</strong>: A 2014 study from the journal <a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3967195/" rel="nofollow noreferrer"><i>Nutrients</i></a> wrote that vegetarians, especially vegans*, may find it difficult to get adequate amounts of protein, calcium, iron, and vitamin B from their diet<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3967195/" rel="nofollow noreferrer">17</a></sup>. Coincidentally, these nutrients are found in abundance in meat and dairy products<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/beef-products/3792/2" rel="nofollow noreferrer">18</a></sup> <sup><a target="_blank" href="https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/dairy-and-egg-products/69/2" rel="nofollow noreferrer">19</a></sup>.</li> <p><i>(*Due to food restrictions, a vegan is the most limiting version of a vegetarian diet when compared to typical keto ingredients. See section “What’s the difference between being keto and a vegetarian?” above.)</i></p> <li><strong>Your diet may be too restrictive</strong>: The key to getting results with your nutrition or fitness plan is sustainability. If the plan is too hard or restrictive, you may have a harder time sticking to it<sup><a target="_blank" href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28214525" rel="nofollow noreferrer">20</a></sup>. Being both keto and a vegetarian may limit what you can eat to the point that you find it too difficult. A simpler plan might be more effective for getting results.</li> </ul> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/vegetables-avocado-in-bowl-0020.webp" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/vegetables-avocado-in-bowl-0020.jp2" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/vegetables-avocado-in-bowl-0020.jpg"> <img src="https://d1ghrtdbdq2gkr.cloudfront.net/blog-content/vegetables-avocado-in-bowl-LR-0020.jpg" class="img-fluid" alt="vegetables-avocado-in-bowl"> </picture> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section id="section8"> <h2>Vegetarian keto diet: wrap-up</h2> <p>Technically, you can be a keto-vegetarian. But unless you’re really diligent about nutrient intake and don’t mind being super creative to hit your macros and daily caloric needs through plant-based foods, it’s probably not a great idea. </p> <p>Many people will find it difficult to fuel their body properly and enjoy their meals, because a traditional keto plan is easier to understand compared to a standard American diet.</p> <p>If you’re going to do it, though, your priorities should be replacing the calories <i>and</i> macronutrients (especially protein) you lose by not eating meat. Re-visit “What should vegetarian keto dieters eat?” above for ideas on which foods can become staples of your diet.</p> <p>If weight loss is your goal, keep in mind that sustainability is key. Whichever diet plan you choose should be something you can stick to over the long-term. You’ll get far better results by being consistent over combining two diets into one.</p> </section> </article>

Previous Post

Back to Diet

Next Post