Cutting to the chase: A ketosis diet for Vegans is one that contains plenty of tofu, mushrooms, leafy greens, a variety of nuts, fermented foods, seaweed, avocados, berries and coconut oil. You should avoid, other forms of sugars, fruits (except for the berries), legumes and grains.
The ketosis or keto diet has become increasingly popular of late among individuals looking to create a dietary or lifestyle change, and for good reason. It is a great way to break old eating patterns and allow yourself to take control over some of those unwanted cravings you may have.
Most people equate it to eating meats and fats, but what if you’re Vegan? You’ll be happy yo know that there is hope if you are on the hunt for a ketosis diet for Vegans.
I can personally attest to this. Using the keto diet I managed to take control of my sugar cravings and curb my addiction to them.
While not everyone may have the same results, I noticed a number of changes while I was on the diet. I felt increased mental clarity and a feeling of lightness even after a big meal. I also felt a higher than normal thirst for water (due to reasons detailed below) and strangely, cravings for herbal tea after all my meals.
So What is Ketosis?
A form of fasting, Ketosis is a state where the body (of an average person) switches from using glucose as a primary fuel source to using ketones. Glucose is a storage of blood sugar in the body, produced by foods such as carbohydrates or excess proteins.
Ketones are produced when the body does not have enough glucose to use for energy and instead burns stored fats instead. The process of converting fat to energy builds up acids in the body which are called ketones. These ketones are created by the liver by converting fat and are then used as the primary energy source.
There are quite a few benefits of being in ketosis which we will discuss further in the article.
What is the Ketosis Diet?
The ketosis diet is an eating plan of minimizing carbohydrate intake and increasing your fat intake to compensate for the missing carbohydrates.
This does not mean you can eat any fats as there are many unhealthy ones, and it is quite easy to ensure you are eating the healthy ones. The two healthy fats to ensure you are eating are monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats.
When I started the diet I learned that depending on how strict you want to be, you should limit your carbohydrate intake to somewhere between 20g and 50g per day. I also learn that while using the diet, you should be somewhere around 75% fats, 20% protein, and 5% carbohydrates. As above, however, you need to ensure that you are consuming enough healthy fats to make this diet work.
The unmodified keto diet is rich in healthy fats, many of which come from animal products. Foods such as meat and poultry, cheese, eggs, and seafood are all staple animal products under this diet.
You can read more about the pros and cons of the keto diet in our article “Pros & Cons: What are the Benefits of Keto Diet?”
The good news is, however, is that it is possible to use the keto diet while retaining a vegan approach. While there is less variety of food available using a vegan approach, there is no shortage of alternative options which are both nutritious and delicious!
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Vegan Keto Friendly Foods and Alternatives
Sticking to a ketosis diet for Vegans can be challenging if you’re not sure on where to turn. There are a number of foods under vegan keto in which you should eat and a number in which you should avoid:
Foods to eat (and examples)
- Vegan “meats” — Tofu, tempeh, seitan, or any other high-protein, low-carbohydrate vegan “meats”
- Mushrooms — Shiitake, lion’s mane or king oyster
- Leafy greens – Kale or spinach
- Above ground vegetables – Broccoli, cauliflower or zucchini
- High fat “dairy” – Coconut cream, vegan cheeses or unsweetened coconut-based yogurts
- Nuts and seeds –Almonds, sunflower seeds, pistachios or pumpkin seeds
- Avocado and berries – Blackberries, raspberries or blueberries
- Fermented foods —Sauerkraut, kim chi or Natto
- Sea vegetables — Irish sea moss, bladderwrack, dulse or kelp
- Sweeteners – Stevia, monk fruit, erythritol or other low-carbohydrate sweeteners
- Other fats – Coconut oil, avocado oil, olive oil or MCT oil
Foods to avoid (and examples)
- Sugar – honey, maple syrup, agave and foods containing refined sugars
- Fruit – avoid all fruits under this diet were possible apart from berries, examples below
- Grains –wheat, rice, or cereal
- Legumes — lentils, peas or black beans
- Tubers – potato or sweet potato/yams
Vegan replacements for keto ingredients/foods
To assist you with the vegan keto diet, see some common keto foods which can be replaced to make the diet vegan:
- You can replace milk with coconut milk
Coconut milk is an excellent substitute for regular milk and can be used in a 1:1 ratio for keto recipes. Almond milk is also a great substitute if the flavor of coconut is not for you!
- Try replacing dairy-based cheese with vegan cheese
There are plenty of vegan cheeses available for consumption. Ranging from coconut to tofu, cashews and other tree-nut-based cheeses.
- Replace regular sour cream and yogurt with nut-based sour cream and yogurt
At your local health food shop, you should be able to find plain cashew, almond or coconut milk yogurt. Be wary however that it has no added sugars or contains high carbohydrate content.
- Instead of using butter, use coconut oil or vegan butter
Coconut oil is a good butter replacement as it has a similar melting point to butter, making it useful for baking recipes. You should be able to find vegan butter in your local health food store. Try to avoid vegan butter that contains hydrogenated oils as the risk of heart disease can be increased considerably by these oils.
- Instead of using cream cheese, have vegan soft cheese instead
Great alternatives to cream cheese could include a cream cheese made from either tofu or cashew nuts. Using coconut milk as a heavy cream is also a good option.
- Replace heavy cream with coconut cream
Using coconut milk as a heavy cream is a good substitute option. If you are looking for a thicker cream, try looking for coconut cream in your local health food store or even your local grocer.
A Few Final Points
While on the keto diet you will also find that you will need more water than normal. This is due to your body’s inability to retain water due to the lack of carbohydrates. I found that most days I would drink between 2.5L and 3L of water, not including any tea or coffee. If you are still feeling really thirsty even after drinking a lot of water, it may be your body crying out for minerals. Try dissolving a piece or two of Celtic lake salt or Himalayan salt in your mouth to resolve your body’s mineral deficiency.
You will also find that you feel fuller for longer due to the increased volume of fats. Fats are a great way to feel fuller for longer. A bit of advice I received was to eat cheese after your final meal for the day, the smellier the better. This was due to higher fat content to help you feel fuller for longer. Under the vegan keto diet, a vegan cheese with high fat and low carbohydrate content will be a suitable replacement.
So you see, a ketosis diet for Vegans is completely possible. As with all diets, take it slowly and let your body adjust. A new diet will often throw the body out of its usual routine. Everyone will experience the diet differently. If you feel poorly from the diet change to keto please visit a health professional (nutritionist or general practitioner) to discuss how to suit the diet to your individual needs.