If you’ve kept abreast of the latest trends in health and nutrition for the last few years, then you’ll have inevitably stumbled upon the ketogenic diet. This high-fat, adequate-protein and low-carb diet is most times rife in animal protein, so how can the average plant-based eater be able to adapt this diet to meet their lifestyle needs? Well, if you’re vegetarian and looking to give a vegetarian keto diet a go, then you’re in luck because we at 8fit have you covered.
Often a vegetarian diet is perceived as one packed with carbohydrates and twinned with the struggle of eating enough protein, so it’s normal that some vegetarians may feel trepidation when encountering the ketogenic approach to nutrition. Is it possible to enter a state of ketosis and get the same results on a vegetarian keto diet as someone on an omnivorous diet? The answer is yes — especially if you’re still consuming some animal-sourced products as a lacto-ovo vegetarian.
What is the keto diet?
Ok, so you have a rough idea what the keto diet is all about, but what is it exactly? Here are the ins and outs:
In a nutshell, the ketogenic diet requires you to reduce your carbohydrate intake notably and in turn, increase your fat intake. The aim is to get your body to use fat instead of glucose as energy, fuelling your body until the next meal. It ideally calls for the following macronutrient breakdown:
- Fat: 70-75% of calories
- Protein: 20-25% of calories
- Carbs: 5-10% of calories
Though the keto diet has been shown to be exceptionally helpful with weight loss, it’s important to know that as with any radical, new nutritional approach there are always some risks involved. As insulin levels dip when you are on a ketogenic diet, your body will also start to shed excess sodium and water. This can lead to those initial weight loss results, but can ultimately have a negative impact on your body, and lead to fatigue, lightheadedness, headaches and even constipation.
Our best advice:
Does a vegetarian keto diet work?
Earlier we touched on this very question and now that you’re up to speed, let’s shed a bit more light on whether a vegetarian keto diet works. A vegetarian ketosis meal plan is in short an adapted low-carb vegetarian diet.
As meat doesn’t play a role here, the focus lies more on your fat intake. We’ve got a handy list of vegetarian ingredients that you can add to your fridge and pantry, which are easy to cook and will offer you more than enough meal options.
That said, a recurring mistake among vegetarians who go keto is incorporating too many vegetable-based carbohydrates, without even realizing. You’ve got to be quite vigilant of all your carb and protein sources following a vegetarian keto diet meal plan, as most vegetarians tend to source their protein from foods like legumes and grains, which aren’t supported on the vegetarian keto diet. If you’re following a diet that’s strictly plant-based, then you’ll have to be even more mindful.
Vegetarian keto diet food list
Let’s tackle the main component of a keto diet first, fat. Nuts and seeds are considered to be the cradle of nourishing fats and protein for vegetarians. As some nuts contain more carbs than others, it’s essential to pick and choose wisely, so that you select low-carb, high-fat assortments.
- Nuts and seeds
- Macadamia nuts
- Pine nuts
- Brazil nuts
- Unsweetened nut butter made from any of the above
- Chia seeds
If you go for the right kind of oil, you’ve got a considerable part of the ketogenic diet under your belt, as oils are a principal keto fat source. Here are some healthy oils we think are a great addition to your staple pantry goods. If possible always select cold-pressed variants, as they are the healthiest and purest oil production method.
- Olive oil
- Macadamia oil
- Coconut oil
- Flaxseed oil
- Avocado oil
- MCT oil
Non-dairy fat sources
Before we list dairy products that are high in protein as well as healthy fat sources, let’s take a peek at some non-dairy, healthy fats you can include in your vegetarian keto diet.
- Cocoa butter
- Coconut cream
Here, we’ve broken down our protein grocery list into animal and plant sourced — so depending on where on the plant-based eating spectrum you find yourself, you have ample choices available. If you go for soy products, try to stick to non-GMO and organic options, and pick ones that are fermented as they are even more abundant in nutrients (think organic tempeh).
- Hard cheeses — parmesan, cheddar, gruyere
- Full-fat cottage cheese
- Goat cheese
- Full-fat unsweetened Greek yogurt
- Nutritional yeast
- Nuts and seeds (see above)
- Unsweetened nut-based yogurt
This is where it gets a little more complicated, and where a list can come in very handy. It’s important to add healthy low-carb veggies to your meals while on the keto diet, so you still receive enough healthy fiber to keep you feeling full. Fruit can also be incorporated into your meal plan, but you have to be selective as the fructose content in a lot of fruit can easily tip you over your daily carbohydrate ration and kick you out of ketosis. Make these veggies and fruits your friends:
- Kale (Try our Roasted Sesame Kale Chips recipe pictured above!)
- Collard greens
- Swiss chard
- Green beans
- Red and white cabbage
- Bell peppers
Vegetarian keto diet meal plan
Breakfast: Cinnamon crunch cereal
Makes 6 servings
If you want to add a little variety of breakfast so it’s not always about eggs and you’re in the mood for some texture, this low-carb cinnamon cereal is the ideal keto breakfast to dig into. There’s something about plunging that round spoon into a cold, creamy bowl of milk and picking up crisp little squares that’ll transport you straight back to childhood. Make a big batch and store it in an air-tight jar so that the rest of the week’s breakfasts are a breeze. It’ll stay crunchy for about as long as a regular breakfast cereal.
- 2 Tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil
- ½ cup milled flaxseed
- ½ cup hulled hemp seeds
- ½ cup unsweetened apple juice
- Combine the dry ingredients in a blender or food processor. Add the apple juice and coconut oil and blend until fully combined and mostly smooth.
- Spread the batter out on a parchment lined cookie sheet until nice and thin – about 1/16 of an inch thick. Bake in a preheated 300°F oven for 15 minutes. Lower the heat to 250°F and bake for another 10 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and using a pizza cutter or knife, cut into little squares about the size of the keys on your computer keyboard.
- Turn off the oven and put the cereal back inside for about an hour, or until crisp and breaks easily. If it’s still soft, keep in the oven until completely dried out and crispy.
- Serve with unsweetened almond or coconut milk
Lunch: Charred veggie and fried goat cheese salad
Makes 1 serving
Give this comforting keto bowl a try — it’ll not only satisfy cravings for something hearty but also has a lovely added pop of flavor from the charred veggies. Pre-coat the goat’s cheese and store it in the fridge for even quicker meal prep. You can also apply some of our handy tips here to other keto meals you make. Incorporating grilled veggies to salads is an easy way to upgrade what could otherwise be a rather sober meal.
- 2 cups arugula, in a shallow bowl
- 2 oz goat cheese, cut 1⁄2 in thick slices
- 1 Tbsp poppy seeds
- 1 Tbsp sesame seeds
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ medium deseeded red bell pepper, cut into quarters
- ¼ cup mushrooms, sliced
- ½ Tbsp avocado oil or extra virgin olive oil
- Combine the poppy and sesame seeds, onion, and garlic flakes in a small dish.
- Coat each piece of goat cheese on both sides with the seasonings. Plate and place in the refrigerator until you’re ready to fry the cheese.
- Prepare a skillet with nonstick spray and heat to medium. Char the peppers and mushrooms on both sides, just until the pieces begin to darken and the pepper softens. Add to the bowl of arugula.
- Place the cold goat cheese in the skillet and fry on each side for about 30 seconds. This melts quickly so be gentle as you turn each piece over.
- Add the cheese to the salad and drizzle with avocado oil or extra virgin olive oil. Serve warm!
Dinner: Cauliflower mac & cheese
Makes 8 servings (great for meal prep!)
Anybody here who doesn’t love mac and cheese? We thought so! This creamy, cheesy pasta radiates a deep sun yellow as a result of the turmeric, mustard, and cheddar cheese. It looks startlingly similar to the boxed variety you’ll feel like you’re really naughty when, actually, you’re enjoying a bright and warm keto dinner. The recipe is pretty straightforward, and you can put the cheese sauce together while the cauliflower is cooking.
- 2 pounds fresh cauliflower florets
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 4 oz cream cheese, cubed
- 8 oz cheddar cheese, grated
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Boil the cauliflower florets in a pot for 10 mins.
- Bring the cream to a simmer. Use a whisk to stir in the cream cheese and mix until smooth.
- Stir in 6 oz of the grated cheddar cheese. Save the other 2 oz for later. Mix until the cheese melts into the sauce.
- Add the Dijon mustard, turmeric, powdered garlic, salt, and pepper. The sauce will become a silky yellow.
- Make sure that the cauliflower is drained, then add it to the cheese sauce. Evenly coat the florets with sauce.
- Sprinkle on the remaining 2 oz of cheddar cheese, then stir until mostly melted. You can add a pinch or two of paprika powder on top for an accent of color and smoky hint of flavor.
The quest for keto
It’s worth noting that while the ketogenic diet has many merits that extend beyond purely the weight loss benefits, at 8fit, we believe in well-rounded, balanced eating rooted in fresh, unprocessed whole foods. That’s why you’ll notice that even though we do have vegetarian and vegan options in our in our 8fit app recipe book at this point in time, this doesn’t include a vegetarian keto diet meal plan option. However, if you sign up for 8fit, you can create your personalized plan by reducing the carbs in your diet through the exclusion option in your onboarding. It’ll allow you to cut out high-carb foods from your meal plan, such as grains, pasta, and high-carb veggies. You’ll end up with low-carb recipes that are easy to cook and even easier to eat.