Today I would like to cover the subject of a vegan diet and keto. Some people might think they are incompatible but that is simply wrong!
Indeed as you will see towards the end of this article there is a US company that has made it’s reputation and business just doing vegan and keto supplements!
Apologies for repeating myself here, I am a vegan and switched to it without any big issues, however, I know it is not easy for everyone. So, if you are still eating meat, but trying to cut down with a view to cutting that out, then perhaps cutting out eggs and dairy, or you have managed the first steps but are struggling to give up cheese, you are most welcome here. However far down that path you may be. Indeed, some of the recipes that I will be promoting at a later date, include some of these items.
Please consider though, just because cheese (for example) is included in the recipe does not mean you cannot substitute it for a vegan alternative, as with any other food. Indeed there are very many alternatives around now, some better than others, so give a few a try and find out what you like.
I would also like to include in brief a vegan keto diet food list. I will incorporate this into the text. However, If you would like a simple list, please let me know and I will be happy to do this at a later stage. It might be a bit too boring to read if i just do that here, but please let me know, I am here to help you on your journey!
Understanding vegan and ketogenic diets
A vegan diet eliminates all animal products including meat, fish, eggs, dairy and honey. It focuses on plant based foods like vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds.
On the other hand the ketogenic diet is a low carb, high fat diet that aims to shift the body into a state of ketosis, where it primarily burns fat for energy. By reducing carbohydrate intake the body starts producing ketones which are used as an alternative fuel source. So this certainly does not mean that vegan and keto, or keto and vegan are incompatible. You can put yourself as vegan or keto first it really doesn’t matter to your body!
Understanding the principles of both diets is crucial when combining them, a vegan ketogenic diet requires careful planning to ensure adequate nutrient intake while maintaining ketosis, it may, and in my experience often will, involve replacing traditional sources of fats and proteins with plant based alternatives.
Again a quick note on supplements here. You will probably need some form of supplements. I will cover this more in detail on a later post but please at least take vitamin B12 on any form of vegan diet. This is required for correct brain and nervous system development and maintainence. B12 is naturally found in bacteria that live in the soil. Traditionally these bacteria will also live on outdoor grown, unprocessed plants (and also seaweed, as in Omega 3), which are then consumed by animals. The flesh of the animal then passes this onto the human diners.
However, with modern intensive methods of farming many animals are missing out on this. They are therefore given B12 supplements. Animals cannot create B12 in the same way they cannot create protein or Omega 3. All of these are stored by the animal from the food sources or supplements. Please drop me a line if you would like more information or a blog specifically on this subject.
Vegan sources of Healthy fats
Healthy fats are essential on ANY diet but also a vegan ketogenic diet, to provide energy and support bodily functions. Fortunately there are several plant based sources of healthy fats. Avocados are great choice as they are rich in monosaturated fats and fiber, nuts and seeds such as almonds, walnuts, chai seeds and flaxseeds are also excellent options. They contain a good balance of fats including Omega 3 fatty acids. I also use a lot of olive oil for this purpose.
Another plant based fat source is coconut oil which is high in medium chain triglycerides. (MCTs). MCTs Are easily converted into ketones making coconut oil a valuable addition to a vegan ketogenic diet. Incorporating these healthy fats into meals can be done through salads, smoothies or by using them as toppings or ingredients in various dishes. Coconut oil is also ideal when frying or baking items
Plant based Proteins for ketosis
Protein is vital for maintaining muscle and overall health, even on a keto vegan diet. Whilst most plant-based proteins contain carbohydrates, some options are suitable for a low carb approach. Tofu, tempeh and seitan are protein-rich foods that can be incorporated into a vegan keto diet.
Tofu is made from soybeans and is a versatile protein source. It can be marinated and grilled, stir fried or added to soups and stews. Tempeh, another soybean product offers a nutty flavor and firm texture. It can be sauteed grilled or crumbled into recipes. Seitan, made from wheat gluten, is an alternative for those not sensitive to gluten. It is high in protein and can be used in various dishes as a meat substitute. In a similar manner to tofu and (to a lesser extent tempeh), it can take on whatever flavour you want to give it through herbs and spices, marinating and using sauces.
Please do not get me wrong, tofu and seitan are naturally very bland but of course the options to add flavour through seasoning is limitless. It is also now possible to buy many different flavoured soy and seitan products. Though as I general rule I like to create my own flavours, often taking a recipe, adding or changing a little here and there. I will share some recipes in later blogs here with you.
Combining different plant based protein sources can help ensure a complete amino acid profile. For instance combining legumes with grains or seeds creates a complementary protein, providing all the essential amino acids the body needs.
Whilst on the subject of proteins I should mention the numerous options out there for protein gels, bars and shakes. Again, there are many different flavours and mixes about, just try a few and choose the ones that suit you. These can be especially useful if you are undertaking a lot of exercise whilst maintaining a vegan and keto diet. A word or two of warning here. Many of these protein rich items are produced from whey, which comes from cow’s milk. Of course we want to avoid that on any vegan diet. We of course also need to read the label and examine the carbohydrate level in there. Some bars and shakes are suitable for Vegans some for keto but far from all for both! If you miss the cow’s milk in your creamy shake try choosing almond milk instead, though again there are a lot of vegan alternatives like soy, walnut, hazelnut and oat based milk, but I think we have already established the advantage of almond based here.
(As a aside on the subject of cows milk, what sort of sense does it make to deprive a calf from it’s mother’s milk? Apart from financial of course. This milk is full of female and growth hormones and is produced specifically for building a calf into a 1400 pound or so creature as quickly as possible. As the cow has just given birth, and will again shortly be pregnant, (of course it doesn’t get a choice here,) it will inevitably be full of hormones. That is in addition to other additives like the antibiotics that farmers feed the cows to keep them healthy in unnatural cramped conditions. Not to mention it has ten times the amount of fat of human milk. By drinking skimmed milk you will cut down on the fat, but what about the rest!? Sorry I digress. You can probably tell I am enthusiastic on this subject!
You can find much more information on the true cost of milk article on this website.
Just a few Low-carb Vegan meal plans
Again, I intent to publish actual recipes on a later blog and a keto vegan diet food list if you want it. Just let me know in the comments below.
Creating balanced, low-carb vegan meals is essential for a successful vegan keto diet. Though the possibilities are endless here are a few general ideas to hopefully inspire your planning.
Breakfast: Start your day with a tofu scramble cooked with vegetables and seasoned with spices like turmeric and nutritional yeast and for me plenty of pepper. Serve with a side of avocado slices and a handful of mixed nuts.
Lunch: Prepare a colourful salad with leafy greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, olives and diced marinated and/or deep fried crispy tofu or tempeh. Dress it with a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice herbs and a little cracked pepper, add some sliced almonds for extra crunch.
Dinner: Enjoy a stir fry made with low carb vegetables, like broccoli, bell peppers and zucchini, along with your choice of plant based tofu, tempeh or seitan. Use coconut oil and spices like ginger and garlic for flavour or add some (or in my case lots of) chilli to spice it up.
Snacks: Again be careful to read the labels but there are loads out there that fit into the keto and vegan diet very well.
So today I set out to explain how being on a keto diet and a vegan diet and not mutually exclusive. Hopefully, I have demonstrated that you can do both and they sit very comfortably together. There are plenty of products out there that you can buy that will give you not only all the nutrients you need but also plenty of variety. However, the beauty of some of these things in my eyes is how you can make your own, within these basic principles. I know we lead busy lives and not everyone likes, or has time to, cook. But you can make your own seitan (it is nothing new, vegetarian monks were creating it at least 1500 years ago), know exactly what’s in it, what spices and the herbs and feel the full benefits of that when you cook it up and feed it to yourself, family and friends. I have many non vegan friends who have enjoyed my cooking and never missed the meat. Nothing about the keto vegan diet needs to be boring or bland and if you’re willing to experiment the options for different flavours, textures and meals are incredible.
It is not always easy to find Keto and vegan products and supplements however there are a few online to choose from.
If you have any questions about a vegan diet please let me know in the comments below I have a lot of experience with this field now and would be more than happy to help you out. Also I would certainly welcome any feedback you may have.