Keto diet usually conjures up images of bacon, ham, and grease. So is it possible to adapt it to fit a vegetarian diet?
The answer is yes. It just needs to rely on other healthy fats, such as coconut oil, eggs, avocados, nuts, and seeds.
Why would one consider vegetarian keto diet?
Although to date there are no studies examining the vegetarian keto diet, both vegetarian and keto diets have been shown to increase weight loss, support blood sugar control, and protect against several chronic illnesses.
If you are a vegetarian who wants to give Keto Diet a try, here is a list of foods to eat or avoid and a five-day sample meal plan.
Foods to eat
A healthy vegetarian keto diet should include a variety of non-starchy vegetables, healthy fats, and protein sources, such as:
- Non-starchy vegetables: spinach, broccoli, mushrooms, kale, cauliflower, zucchini, and bell peppers
- Healthy fats: olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, MCT oil, and avocado oil
- Nuts: almonds, walnuts, cashews, macadamia nuts, pistachios, and Brazil nuts
- Seeds: chia, hemp, flax, and pumpkin seeds
- Nut butters: almond, peanut, pecan, and hazelnut butter
- Full-fat dairy products: milk, yogurt, and cheese
- Protein: eggs, tofu, tempeh, spirulina, natto, and nutritional yeast
- Low-carb fruits (in moderation): berries, lemons, and limes
- Herbs and seasonings: basil, paprika, pepper, turmeric, salt, oregano, rosemary, and thyme
- Foods to avoid
On a vegetarian keto diet, of course, you will be avoiding all meat and seafood.
Here are some foods that you should limit:
- Starchy vegetables: potatoes, yams, beets, parsnips, carrots, and sweet potatoes
- Sugar-sweetened beverages: soda, sweet tea, sports drinks, juice, and energy drinks
- Grains: bread, rice, quinoa, oats, millet, rye, barley, buckwheat, and pasta
- Legumes: beans, peas, lentils, and chickpeas
- Fruits: apples, bananas, oranges, berries, melon, apricots, plums, and peaches
- Condiments: barbecue sauce, honey mustard, ketchup, marinades, and sweetened salad dressings
- Processed foods: breakfast cereals, granola, chips, cookies, crackers, and baked goods
- Sweeteners: brown sugar, white sugar, honey, maple syrup, and agave nectar
- Alcoholic beverages: beer, wine, and sweetened cocktails
Sample meal plan
This five-day sample meal plan can help kickstart a vegetarian keto diet.
- Breakfast: omelet made with coconut oil, cheese, tomatoes, garlic, and onions
- Lunch: cauliflower-crust pizza with cheese, mushrooms, diced tomatoes, olive oil, and spinach
- Dinner: salad with mixed greens, tofu, avocados, tomatoes, and bell peppers
- Breakfast: smoothie with full-fat milk, spinach, peanut butter, MCT oil, and chocolate whey protein powder
- Lunch: zucchini noodles with tempeh meatballs and creamy avocado sauce
- Dinner: coconut curry made with olive oil, mixed veggies, and tofu
- Breakfast: Greek yogurt topped with walnuts and chia seeds
- Lunch: taco lettuce wraps with walnut-mushroom meat, avocados, tomatoes, cilantro, sour cream, and cheese
- Dinner: zucchini pizza boats with olive oil, marinara, cheese, spinach, and garlic
- Breakfast: keto oatmeal with hemp seeds, flax seeds, heavy cream, cinnamon, and peanut butter
- Lunch: baked egg-avocado boats topped with chives, coconut bacon, and paprika
- Dinner: cauliflower fried rice made with coconut oil, veggies, and tofu
- Breakfast: tofu scramble with olive oil, mixed veggies, and cheese
- Lunch: cauliflower mac and cheese with avocado oil, broccoli, and tempeh bacon
- Dinner: frittata with coconut oil, spinach, asparagus, tomatoes, and feta
Vegetarian keto snacks
Here are a few simple snacks that you can enjoy between meals:
- zucchini chips
- celery with peanut butter
- roasted pumpkin seeds
- flax crackers with sliced cheese
- mixed nuts
- chia seed pudding topped with unsweetened coconut
- carrots with guacamole
- whipped cream with blackberries
- full-fat cottage cheese with black pepper
- full-fat Greek yogurt with walnuts
Independently, vegetarian and keto diets may promote blood sugar control, weight loss, and several other benefits.
Nonetheless, this diet may increase your risk of nutritional deficiencies and hasn’t been studied on its own.
Still, if you are vegetarian and interested in trying keto — or already following keto and curious about going meat-free — it’s definitely possible to combine both.