This all means that it's absolutely possible to do vegetarian keto, and in fact, many ketogenic dieters do stay away from meats.
Because the keto diet is mainly made up of fats, there are plenty of easy, delicious vegetarian keto food options. The ketogenic diet becomes a bit more difficult if you're vegan because many of the food options that are packed with quality fats are animal products (like cheese, cream, ghee, and eggs).
While there are nutritional benefits associated with eating red meats and poultry in moderation, you can certainly still live a ketogenic lifestyle without them successfully.
Start by downloading our Master Keto Food List with 100+ keto foods mapped out to see what we mean!
Here are some tips and recipes for every type of vegetarian wanting to try the ketogenic diet.
1. Keto for Ovo-Vegetarians
If you're a vegetarian who eats eggs or egg whites (ovo-vegetarian), incorporating a carton of eggs or egg whites into your diet is a perfect way to make sure you have enough protein in your diet.
Eggs are also loaded with fat-soluble vitamins, iron, B vitamins, and high-quality fat in the yolk. They’re inexpensive and versatile, so they should be a staple in any keto diet plan, especially a vegetarian diet.
Ovo vegetarians typically do not eat cheese, so if that's the case for your vegetarian diet, then omit any cheese in any keto recipes you come across, and you'll be good to go.
Keto Ovo-Vegetarian Recipes:
- Keto Green Egg Omelet - a perfect breakfast for a vegetarian keto diet!
- Keto Breakfast Casserole - just leave out the meat
- Keto Zucchini Casserole - omit the bacon
- Deviled Eggs - again, skip the bacon
2. Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian Keto[caption id="attachment_1042" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] This portobello mushroom pizza is shown topped with pepperoni, but you can omit that from the recipe to make it vegetarian-friendly.[/caption]
Yes, you read that right. A vegetarian keto diet means you can load up on cheese.
Fresh mozzarella is packed with protein and fat, making it a perfect accessory for a vegetarian keto diet. Simply top vegetables like portobello mushrooms, eggplant rounds, or zucchini noodles with mozzarella and/or grated Parmesan for an instant protein boost. If you want a cheesy snack that is anything but cheesy, a buffalo chicken dip – sans the chicken – is a delightful keto diet food that pairs perfectly with celery or carrots and fits nicely with a vegetarian lifestyle. This eggplant lasagna loaded with creamy ricotta cheese is perfect for any Italian lover. Just leave out the sausage.
Keto Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian Recipes:
- Buffalo Chicken Dip – sans the chicken (pairs perfectly with celery or carrots)
- Keto Coconut Parsnip Soup - omit the bacon
- Fluffy Keto Waffles
- Green Egg Omelet - omit the bacon
- Keto Mocha Cookies & Cream Smoothie
- Keto Eggplant Lasagna - omit the sausage
3. Keto for Pescatarian Vegetarian Diets
If you're a pescatarian, you can absolutely still follow a ketogenic diet. In fact, fish (especially wild-caught, cold-water fish) can be one of the best sources of quality fats available.
Packed with omega-3 fatty acids and protein, the fat from fish sources can be excellent mental fuel and protect your brain health.
Keto Pescatarian Recipes:
- Pan-Seared Salmon with Lemon Dill Sauce
- Parmesan-Encrusted Halibut
- Keto Smoked Salmon Dip
- Fisherman's Chowder
- Mahi Mahi with Beurre Blanc
Protein on the Vegetarian Ketogenic DietIf you've been following a vegetarian diet for some time, you're probably well aware of your protein intake. This has historically been one of the biggest concerns of a vegetarian diet.
Protein is less of a concern on the keto diet, where most of your calories (around 75%) should come from fats. Only around 5% of your caloric intake should come from carbohydrates, and the rest should be made up of proteins. See the keto food pyramid below.
Your keto protein sources should come from two things:
High-protein veggies and other high-protein foods.
High-Protein VegetablesCan't include seafood or eggs in your diet? Try stocking up on these high-protein vegetables. Just keep in mind you'll probably need quite a lot to help reach your macros:
- Kale (Recipe: Kale Salad with no bacon)
- Broccoli (Recipe: Roasted Broccoli with Garlic and Parmesan)
- Brussels Sprouts (Recipe: Roasted Brussels Sprouts with no bacon)
- Squash (Recipe: Butternut Squash Soup with no bacon)
- Peas (enjoy in moderation because they're starchy)
Other High-Protein Keto FoodsWhile these additional options are high in protein, they also contain carbs. You'll want to check the nutrition info per serving (or use our carb counter tool) to make sure you can make it work in your meal plan. Options include:
- Nuts: macadamia, almonds, walnuts, pistachios
- Nut butters: macadamia nut butter, cashew nut butter, almond nut butter, and pecan nut butter.
- Lentils: 2.5:1 carb to protein ratio per tablespoon
- Legumes: roughly 10 grams of carbs and 4-5 grams of protein per 1/2 cup
Supplementing on a Vegetarian Ketogenic DietSupplementation is popular among keto-ers, and often necessary to ensure a balanced keto diet that is not deficient in micronutrients or electrolytes.
The good news is that most ketogenic diet supplements are vegetarian-friendly. We'll go over the most widely-used keto supplements, and whether they're vegetarian (or vegan) below.
- BHB exogenous ketones: Beta-hydroxybutyrate is an exogenous ketone supplement that helps curb cravings, reduce appetite, support ketosis, and reduce or eliminate symptoms of the keto flu. Most BHB is approved on a ketogenic vegetarian diet, but be sure to read the label. Stick with one that is 100% vegan and vegetarian approved like KetoLogic Keto BHB.
- MCT Oil: MCT oil is considered to be the ultimate ketogenic fat source because it bypasses the digestive system to the liver to be converted into ketones. MCTs are derived from coconuts, so typically both vegan and vegetarian. Again, read the label, and opt for one that is vegan and vegetarian like KetoLogic C8/C10 MCT Oil.
- Keto Meal Replacement shakes: Meal replacement shakes are popular in the ketogenic community because they eliminate time spent on meal prep, which is a common pain point among keto-ers. They're also usually formulated with keto macros in mind, so fit with your daily fat and carb targets perfectly. Many keto MRPs are not vegan as they often have dairy products, but they should almost all be vegetarian, like KetoLogic's top-selling KetoMeal Shake.
- Electrolyte supplements. Electrolyte supplements are common on a ketogenic diet because it's widely accepted that the keto flu comes from electrolyte depletion that is common when somebody transitions from a standard American diet (SAD) to a low-carb diet. Most electrolyte supplements will be vegan and vegetarian, though one thing to watch out for is whether it's a gel cap or a powder. Gelcaps are often made of animal products so wouldn't be vegan. KetoLogic's Keto Electrolytes are vegan and come in two flavors plus unflavored.
- Collagen peptides or proteins. Collagen is another common supplement on the ketogenic diet, and it's derived from animal sources. Unless you're a pescatarian and are consuming marine collagen, then you should skip collagen.
- Greens powders. Many ketogenic dieters will supplement with a greens powder to take care of vital micronutrients. Most greens powders are both vegetarian and vegan.