Disclaimers: veganism is about ethics. This article is not about ethics, it’s just to show it’s totally possible to reduce your consumption of animal foods and carbohydrates simultaneously. I said it wasn’t about ethics, but many vegans are A-OK with eating oysters and oysters SMOKE steak as a source of vitamin B12. Otherwise just take a B12 pill. Some nutritional yeast products are also good sources of B12. And DHA (algal or spirulina if you prefer).
Is Vegan Keto Doable?
Yes, absolutely, and there are a number of online groups (eg, /r/veganketo) available for advice, tips, suggestions, etc.
The idea of this “Eco-Atkins” diet was explored in a 1 month long, highly controlled pilot study in 2009 (1) and a 6 month, ad lib follow-up study in 2014 (2).
What Are the Studies on Vegan Keto?
Since this diet is somewhat foreign to many, dividing the study like that made sense: during the first part, all of the food was provided in a hypocaloric context. This accomplished a couple things:
It “taught” the participants what kind of foods they could eat on this diet, such that in the 6-month follow-up they were better able to stick to the diet.
Providing it in a hypocaloric context ensured all of the food was eaten and they were seeing a genuine change in the animal content of the diets and not differences in calorie intake or weight loss.
During the second part of the study, the participants were free to eat as much as they wanted, so if the diets differently influenced hunger and appetite, we would see a difference in body weight.
My only recommendation for plant-based fats would be to stick with coconut oil, cocoa butter, and avocado, and steer away from other common seed oils like canola and corn oils.
By design, both groups lost weight and there was no differences between the groups:
And interestingly, the low carb plant-based group was actually more satisfied with their diet! This didn’t manifest in more weight loss because the calories were identical in both groups and they were advised to maintain normal physical activity.
And what happened after 6 months of ad lib feeding? Well, that satiety paid off for the low carb plant-based dieters:
The participants in the plant-based group also experienced a significant reduction in LDL cholesterol.
Why Vegan Keto?
Most people come to veganism due to ethical concerns. That is fine. Nutrition-wise, there are few reasons to follow a vegan approach.
Make sure you are getting all the nutrients you need by including a variety of low-carb foods into your diet. You can find plenty of vegan keto recipes here, both sweet and savory. Some recipes include vegan-friendly alternatives so make sure to check our swap tips.
What About Protein on a Vegan Keto Diet?
Vegans generally have no problems getting enough protein. Literally, all plants have protein.
Getting high protein while maintaining nutritional ketosis may require vegan-friendly protein supplements, and there are many of them, but getting adequate protein is still no problem. My only recommendation would be to incorporate them into mixed meals. That is, don’t rely on only one source of protein in any meals. This goes for non-vegans, too.
Oysters are a great source of vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and low carb protein. Kinda like a vegan multivitamin supplement.
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