Vegan Keto Diet Guide: Foods, Benefits, and Potential Risks

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 02/21/2024

Can keto be combined with a vegan diet? The answer is yes, they can work together, but not without challenges.

Let's examine what a healthy vegan keto diet plan looks like and what foods are acceptable, and discover the benefits and potential risks of combining these two dietary approaches.

Healthy vegan fats and proteins

Can you do keto if you’re vegan?

A study published in Nature Medicine shows that the transition to either a ketogenic or vegan diet can be advantageous for both the immune system and a diverse microbiome. 

But what about combining the keto and vegan diet? Can it be done? The answer is yes, it’s possible to do keto if you’re vegan. 

While blending the vegan and ketogenic diet can be challenging, a plant-based ketogenic diet can be effective when carefully planned. 

Watch this video to learn about the most important nutrient in a vegan keto diet plan.

Vegan keto diet basics

The vegan keto diet merges veganism with ketogenic principles.

Healthy Keto® is a nutritious, high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet emphasizing non-GMO produce, healthy fats, grass-fed meat, wild-caught fish and game meat, organic full-fat dairy, pasture-raised eggs, seeds, and nuts.  

The focus of a vegan diet is to avoid the use of all animal-sourced products, which can include the broader category of produce created by living creatures, as most vegans will avoid products like honey.   

Simply put, combining these two diets requires substituting animal-based proteins and fats with plant-based alternatives while maintaining a keto-friendly macronutrient intake.

While many keto dieters aim to limit net carbs to between 20 and 50 grams per day, it's acceptable for the carbohydrate intake of a vegan keto diet to lean towards the maximum allowance of 50 grams in order to obtain daily nutrient and energy requirements.

Keto diet macronutrient diagram

What are the macronutrient goals for a vegan keto diet?

While slightly higher carbohydrate limits may be acceptable for vegan keto dieters, it’s crucial to limit carb intake sufficiently to achieve ketosis in order to benefit from the profound health advantages of the ketogenic diet.

That being said, the high fiber content of many healthy ketogenic vegan foods will help mitigate overall carbohydrate intake as fiber can be deducted from the overall carb count of the food, providing a net carb count that can guide daily carb intake limits.

Here’s a breakdown of the ideal daily macronutrient goals of a vegan keto diet:

  • Net carbs: 5 to 10 percent of your daily caloric intake

  • Fats:  70 to 75 percent of your daily caloric intake

  • Protein: 20 to 25 percent of your daily caloric intake

Woman eating a healthy salad

What foods can you eat on vegan keto?

Most vegans come to a crossroads when first pursuing keto, as it can be challenging to keep meals low in carbs and simultaneously nutritious and high in fat.

Fortunately, there are plenty of vegan options that fit well within a ketogenic diet plan. 


Foods to eat

With careful planning and attention to nutrient intake, it's possible to follow a vegan ketogenic diet.

Here’s a list of foods and beverages you can embrace on a Healthy Keto vegan diet:

  • Organic non-GMO soy: tofu and tempeh

  • Certain nuts and seeds: almonds, brazil nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, pine nuts, walnuts, chia seeds, flax, hemp seeds, and pumpkin seeds

  • Healthy plant-based fats: unrefined coconut oil, organic coconut milk, extra virgin olive oil, pure avocado oil

  • Leafy greens: arugula, beet greens, bok choy, chard, kale, spinach, tatsoi

  • Non-starchy vegetables: asparagus, acorn squash, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, celery, cucumber eggplant, mushrooms, pickles, radish, spaghetti squash, yellow squash, zucchini

  • Low-glycemic index fruit: avocados, berries (in moderation), certain citrus fruits like lemons and limes, olives, tomatoes

  • Herbs and spices: basil, black pepper, chili pepper, cinnamon, dill, fenugreek seeds, ginger, garlic, turmeric, thyme, oregano

  • Organic unfortified nutritional yeast: Nutritional yeast is an excellent nutrient-dense option that’s high in B vitamins and offers essential amino acids, making it an excellent choice for those on the vegan keto diet. 

  • Zero sugar beverages: Apple cider vinegar, coffee, carbonated water, mineral water, black or green tea, lemon water

  • Whole food meat and dairy substitutes: The rule of thumb is that the shorter the ingredient list, the better, and of course, all ingredients must be Healthy Keto approved.

  • Electrolytes: Sugar-free and zero-calorie electrolyte drinks play a critical role in maintaining mineral balance and help to keep keto-flu symptoms at bay. 

Sliced bread with caution tape

Foods to avoid

  • Grains and starches: corn, rice, wheat, oatmeal, potatoes, sweet potatoes

  • Legumes: black beans, great Northern beans, kidney beans, lentils, lima beans

  • High-carb fruits: apples, bananas, cherries, grapes, mango, melons, peaches, pears 

  • Sugar: Table sugar, fructose, honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, molasses, coconut sugar, maltodextrin

  • Fried foods and low-quality cooking oils: Canola oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, grapeseed oil, soy oil, sunflower oil, vegetable oil

  • Highly processed foods: Unfortunately, many plant-based meat and dairy substitutes, and even snack products marketed as “keto-friendly,” can contain potentially harmful ingredients or added sugars. 

Woman in oversized jeans

Benefits of vegan keto

The vegan keto diet, which combines a plant-based meal plan with carbohydrate restriction, presents several impressive health benefits:

1. Weight loss

A study published in BMJ Open showed that low carbohydrate vegan diets are effective in promoting weight loss and reducing heart disease risk factors.

Over a six-month period, participants following a vegan keto diet lost significantly more weight than those following a high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet. 

2. Reducing processed food intake

According to research published in The Journal of Nutrition, those who avoid animal-based foods are more likely to consume ultra-processed foods (UPFs), which are linked to a wide range of detrimental health effects such as heart disease, depression, obesity, and an increased risk of all-cause mortality. 

Adopting a Healthy Keto vegan diet emphasizes the importance of nutritious whole food options, which minimizes UPF consumption and helps maximize the many health benefits of keto and the vegan diet. 

3. Reduction in sugar intake

Switching to a vegan keto diet helps address excessive carb and sugar intake, which is a common issue with regular plant-based diets, which often focus on refined carbohydrates.

“Avoiding carbs and sugar is crucial on keto as they will prevent you from reaching ketosis,” explains Dr. Berg. “In addition, regular sugar intake is associated with more than 45 negative health effects such as diabetes, depression, cancer, hypertension, and early death.”  

An article published in Nature describes sugar as posing such a health risk that the authors suggest regulations similar to drugs and alcohol with an emphasis on preventative education and taxation.

Vitamins, supplements, and herbs

Downsides of vegan keto

While there are potential health benefits to a vegan keto diet, there are also several disadvantages to avoiding animal-based products. 

Here are the most common downsides of plant-based ketogenic diets.

1. Nutritional deficiencies

The number one concern about converting to a vegan keto diet is the potential for serious nutrient deficiencies. 

Even meat eaters can struggle with vitamin deficiencies, and one of the most common vitamin deficiencies for all individuals is vitamin B12, which is most commonly found in meat.

For added complexity, many vitamin B12 supplements contain a synthetic vitamin B12 called cyanocobalamin, which is poorly absorbed and may not promote optimal B12 status.  

In order to prevent nutritional deficiencies on a restrictive diet like vegan keto, it may require an increase in vitamin and mineral supplementation in addition to careful meal planning to include more nutrient-dense foods.

If satisfying nutrient intake on vegan keto wasn't difficult enough, unfortunately, many of the common protein sources for vegans are high in trypsin inhibitors.

Trypsin inhibitors are enzymes that can impair the absorption of amino acids and the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. 

Some of the common vegan protein sources high in trypsin inhibitors include:

  • Soy 

  • Grains

  • Beans

  • Nightshade vegetables 

Seeds and nuts also contain trypsin inhibitors. However, germinating nuts and seeds prior to consumption can eliminate up to 90% of enzyme inhibitors such as phytic acid. 

Consuming germinated or sprouted nuts and seeds is ideal as they support better digestion and nutrient absorption. 

2. Inconvenience 

While plant-based meat substitutes have become more common in recent years, they tend to be very processed, high in carbs and sugar, often contain harmful ingredients, and aren’t Healthy Keto approved

To practice a healthy version of the vegan keto diet that includes nutrient-dense whole foods, meal planning is a must.  

3. Limited variety

A significant downside of the vegan keto diet is limited variety, which can make it difficult to achieve a balanced intake of macro and micronutrients essential for overall health and well-being. 

This can be especially frustrating if unexpected circumstances prevent you from getting a meal in time, as trying to find Healthy Keto vegan-friendly meals at restaurants or on-the-go can be difficult and may result in unsatisfying meals that lack nutrients.

Careful planning and knowledge of nutrient-rich, healthy keto vegan foods are crucial to avoiding potential deficiencies and maintaining dietary balance.

Question mark on a dinner plate

Is a vegan keto diet worth it?

The bottom line is that vegan and ketogenic diets can work in harmony. However, if you want to maximize the health benefits of a Healthy Keto vegan diet, it’s not going to be easy.

In order to achieve the best results, individuals will need to be mindful of their nutrient intake, avoid processed foods, become proficient at prepping balanced meals, and take vitamin and mineral supplements to meet daily nutrient requirements.  

While it demands diligence, the vegan keto diet can be a healthy approach for those interested in both keto and maintaining a plant-based diet.

Chef Grinding salt over vegetables

Vegan keto recipes

With careful planning and preparation, vegan keto diets are absolutely achievable. 

If you’re up for the challenge, here are some great vegan Healthy Keto-friendly meals to start with. 


1. Vegan Avocado Toast 

2. Vegan Keto Everything Bagels 

3. Vegan Mint Pesto and Veggie Bowl 


1. Vegan Carpaccio Salad

2. Tofu Peanut Butter Sandwich 

3. Baked Avocado Fries 

4. Vegan Chia Seed Crackers 

5. Cauliflower Hummus


1. Vegan Cauliflower Steaks 

2. ​​Macadamia Nut and Parsley Pesto Vegan Bowl 

3. Vegan Keto Pine Nut Pesto 

4. Vegan Peanut and Mushroom Keto Wraps 

5. Vegan Pad Thai 

Satiating desserts

1. Vegan Chia Chocolate Pudding 

2. Vegan Friendly Macadamia Coconut Fat Bomb  

3. Chocolate Chip Coconut Butter Fat Bombs (Vegan-Friendly)

4. Chocolate Strawberry Fat Bombs (Vegan-Friendly)

5. Vegan Chocolate Avocado Fat Bombs

6. Creamy Vegan Chocolate Avocado Pudding 

Bowl of healthy vegan food

Key takeaways

The vegan keto diet combines the benefits of the low-carb diet with plant-based eating, which can offer positive health benefits, including weight loss, lower intake of processed foods, and steady energy levels. 

However, a plant-based ketogenic diet can present challenges such as potential nutritional deficiencies, limited options while eating out, and the need for careful meal planning and preparation.

While the Healthy Keto vegan diet may not be for everyone, it can be an excellent dietary approach for those committed to avoiding animal-based products. 


1. Can I do keto if I’m vegan?

Yes, with careful meal and supplement planning, a vegan diet can be successfully combined with the ketogenic diet.

2. What is a vegan keto diet?

A vegan keto diet is similar to the keto diet in the way of macronutrient goals. However, due to the restrictions of the vegan diet, carbohydrate goals are slightly more flexible than the traditional Healthy Keto® diet in order to compensate for the lack of animal-based proteins and fats. 

3. Is vegan keto healthy?

Following a vegan keto diet can be healthy with proper meal planning and preparation to meet daily nutrient requirements.

4. What are the downsides of vegan keto?

The number one downside of adopting a vegan keto diet is the increased risk of vitamin, mineral, and micronutrient deficiencies.

This is often a result of improper meal planning and a lack of variety.  

5. How many carbs can I have on a vegan ketogenic diet? 

An ideal amount of carbs on a keto vegan diet ranges between 20 to 50 grams of net carbs per day or 5 to 10 percent of your daily caloric intake.

6. What can I eat on a vegan keto diet?

There are several healthy plant-based foods that are keto-friendly, such as tofu, tempeh, nuts, seeds, berries (in moderation), leafy greens, low-carb vegetables, and healthy fats, including extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, and olives.  

7. Is vegan keto good for weight loss?

Yes, a vegan keto diet can support weight loss. 

Limiting carbohydrates shifts your metabolism to utilize fat instead of sugar as a primary energy source, which promotes weight loss and helps maintain a healthy body weight. 





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