How To Follow A Vegan Ketogenic Diet

  • FDA Disclaimer
    The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. Learn More
  • Affliliate Disclosure
    In compliance with the FTC guidelines, please assume the following about links and posts on this site: Many of the links on are affiliate links of which I receive a small commission from sales of certain items, but the price is the same for you. If I post an affiliate link to a product, it is something that I personally use, support and would recommend without an affiliate link. Learn More
  • Privacy Policy
    Please read the Privacy Policy carefully before you start to use By using or by clicking to accept or agree to Terms of Use when this option is made available to you, you accept and agree to be bound and abide by the Privacy Policy. Learn More
Vegan Ketogenic, How To Follow A Vegan Ketogenic Diet

Vegan Ketogenic, How To Follow A Vegan Ketogenic Diet

How To Follow A Vegan Ketogenic Diet

Two major health trends are the vegan or plant based diet movement and the ketogenic diet.  While these plans don’t naturally endorse each other…it is possible to get the benefits of what both nutrition practices offer.

Most vegan diets rely upon a high amount of carbohydrates as the major source of calories so these individuals would not produce ketones. In this article, I am going to break down how to follow a vegan ketogenic diet to improve health and performance.

The ketogenic diet is beginning to get a lot of media attention for its tremendous health benefits. I think it is important to help empower people on how to properly implement a ketogenic diet into their lifestyle if they so desire. This article serves as a guide for how I would suggest following a vegan ketogenic diet for optimal results.

Vegan Ketogenic, How To Follow A Vegan Ketogenic Diet

Vegan Ketogenic, How To Follow A Vegan Ketogenic DietVegan/Plant-Based Diet

A vegan diet is one devoid of all animal products. This means no animal meat and no byproducts of animals (milk, eggs, cheese, honey, etc.). This will usually carry over into lifestyle as well as these people tend to avoid anything made using animal products. The vegan philosophy comes from an ethical philosophy of minimizing suffering for animals.

This style of diet that has recently gained a ton of press due to the film What The Health as well as many other media publications following a similar narrative. While I do have my qualms about the “facts” portrayed in this film and how it was presented, there are certainly benefits to be derived from a plant-based diet if carefully planned.

One thing they did not mention in the film was the benefit of carbohydrate restriction, they instead insisted that as long as you are not eating meat, you can essentially eat as much sugar as you want with no health consequences. I obviously do not agree with this idea.

The science actually shows that a low-carb, high-fat diet has the potential to lower risk of heart disease, lower inflammation, and improve blood sugar regulation more effectively than a low-fat, high-carb diet (1, 2).

Vegan Ketogenic, How To Follow A Vegan Ketogenic Diet

Benefits of Plant-Based Diets

Compared to the Standard American Diet, plant-based diets have been shown to offer some level of benefit in reducing the risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. There has also been a correlation between plant-based diets and decreased risk of cancer which may be attributable to higher amounts of antioxidants and protein restriction (3).

Many people may notice that they lose weight and sometimes observe an improvement in gut health, but this can vary depending on an individual’s current health status. This is likely due to the removal of highly processed foods and an increase in dietary fiber intake.

For many people, there are certain risks of following a plant-based diet if it is not carefully planned, they include:

Protein Deficiency

Low B12

Increased Intake of Dietary Carbohydrates – Blood Sugar Imbalances

High Consumption of Phytic Acids and Lectins – Causing Gut Inflammation

Negligible Intake of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

…and some people notice that they just don’t feel healthy when they eliminate all animal-based products from the diet.

Vegan Ketogenic, How To Follow A Vegan Ketogenic Diet

Ketogenic Diet

A ketogenic diet is a very low-carbohydrate meal plan that derives the majority of its calories from healthy fat sources. In fact, at least 60-70% of your total calories will be coming from fat sources while often less than 5% will be coming from carbs. The goal with this is to drop blood sugar and insulin low enough that the body resorts to burning fat as energy instead.

When this happens, your liver begins to convert fatty acids into molecules called ketones. Ketones are a very efficient fuel source that produce more stable energy, and have tons of health benefits for the brain and body.

While originally designed as a medical therapy for pediatric seizures in the 1900’s, it has reemerged as a powerful brain boosting and healing strategy. I personally recommend a ketogenic or low-carb, high-fat diet to the majority of my clients who are looking to optimize their health and quality of life.

Traditionally, a ketogenic diet is relatively high in animal-based foods.  Obviously, a vegan ketogenic diet would not be.

Vegan Ketogenic, How To Follow A Vegan Ketogenic Diet

Benefits Of A Ketogenic Diet

The ketogenic diet is starting to get recognition for incredible healing benefits it provides. One of the most significant aspects in my opinion, is its potential cancer-fighting effects (4). Additionally, as someone who relies on his own wellbeing in order to serve others, I take advantage of a ketogenic diet daily to maximize my mental acuity and boost my overall performance.

Other Benefits of a Ketogenic Diet Include:

Improved Blood Sugar Regulation

Lowered Inflammation

Supporting Ideal Weight

Reduced Oxidative Stress

Improved Mitochondrial Health

Improvement In Multiple Neurological Disorders

Metabolically speaking, ketones are much more efficiently converted into energy compared to sugar. As a result, less oxidative stress occurs and therefore less inflammation. On top of this, there is a stimulation of mitochondrial biogenesis (growth of new mitochondria) (5).

Essentially, the energy production factories in your cells gain better fuel and your body significantly upregulates how many of those factories there are. This means more energy for your body to perform normal functions.  It is this combined effect of reduced inflammation and increased energy production that is responsible for most of the benefits of ketosis.

Vegan Ketogenic, How To Follow A Vegan Ketogenic Diet

Is A Vegan Ketogenic Diet Possible?

In short, yes, a vegan ketogenic diet is possible. In my opinion, it can be quite limiting, but nonetheless it can be done.  The proportion of high-fat plant-based foods is quite low compared to a more traditional paleo eating style. This is because plants tend to store starch or sugar as energy whereas animals tend to store more fat.

At the same time, some of the best plant-based sources of protein also tend to be high in starch. This would include things like beans. So, when looking for plant-based foods that help provide, enough fat, adequate protein, while also being low in carbs; the list of available foods narrows quickly.  With some planning and a little creativity however, going on a vegan ketogenic plan can be achieved.

Vegan Ketogenic, How To Follow A Vegan Ketogenic Diet

Vegan Keto Breakdown


In general, some of the staple fat sources on a vegan ketogenic diet would be coconut, avocados, olives, and higher fat nuts like macadamias or walnuts.

Additionally, the products that are made out of these high-fat foods can be great too. For example, coconut oil, coconut flakes, or full-fat coconut milk are great. Same with avocado oil or olive oil. Finally, nut butters can be a great option. The key for many people will be getting creative with these things to create variety.

The general rule to follow is that a food contains at least 70% healthy fats and very few net carbs. Healthy fats would be mostly saturated fats with smaller amounts of poly- and mono-unsaturated fats. Net carbs can be calculated by subtracting the fiber content from the total carbs in a given food.

For Example:

The average avocado contains somewhere around 17 grams of total carbohydrates where 13 grams of that is fiber (per 1 cup serving). So, by subtracting 13 from 17, we get 4 grams of net carbs. Most people will want to shoot for 40 or less net carbs per day while following a ketogenic diet in order to maintain a fat-burning metabolic state.

Vegan Ketogenic, How To Follow A Vegan Ketogenic Diet


This is really where challenges are met with a vegan ketogenic diet. Many of the best plant-based protein sources are consequently high in starches. This is obviously not conducive to being in ketosis.

Technically, the most ketogenic vegan protein source would be tofu due to its low carbohydrate content. This is assuming that there is adequate fat consumption from other sources. As a health professional, I do not recommend the consumption of any unfermented soy products. Organic tempeh, which is a fermented soy product, could be a key aspect of your diet however.

Finally, consuming a high-quality plant-based protein powder may be an important aspect of getting into ketosis on a plant-based diet while ensuring protein needs are met. Some of the best options for this are hemp, brown rice, and pea-derived proteins.

Vegan Ketogenic, How To Follow A Vegan Ketogenic Diet

Protein Requirements

Protein consumption is important to monitor on a ketogenic diet. Consuming too little protein, which is not uncommon on a vegan diet, will facilitate the breakdown of muscle tissues and other consequences of amino acid deficiencies. At the same time, too much protein can be counterproductive to getting into ketosis as your body will tend to convert excess amino acids into glucose.

The rule to follow is generally about 1 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight. So, for a 160 lb. individual:

Divide by 2.2 lb./kg to calculate your bodyweight in kg:

160/2.2 = 73 (and this would be your daily protein requirement)

This is going to be adequate for an individual who is fairly inactive. For someone who is looking to put on muscle and is very active, this number can be increased to between 100-120 grams of protein on training days, which would be about 1.3-1.6 grams of protein per kg.

For those dealing with cancer, staying around 0.5 g/Kg can be therapeutic for reducing mTOR expression. To put that into perspective, a 150 lb. person would only consume 34 g/protein daily. mTOR is a biological pathway in the body which plays an important role in regulating cell growth and proliferation that may also have an influence over cancer growth (6).

If you are simply having problems with staying full, then increasing fat intake will be the place to focus.

Vegan Ketogenic, How To Follow A Vegan Ketogenic Diet

Therapeutic Considerations

If you are planning on using the ketogenic diet as a healing strategy, certain factors should be considered. For example, those that are struggling with autoimmunity or cancer often have sensitive and inflamed digestive systems.

In these cases, using an easily digestible protein powder can be very helpful. Personally, I will use Gut Healing Protein as it is keto friendly and extremely beneficial for repairing an inflamed gut. It is also vegan, being derived from pea and rice sources.

Also, if consuming nuts it will be important to soak and sprout them in order to improve digestibility and reduce the burden of digestion.

Vegan Ketogenic, How To Follow A Vegan Ketogenic Diet

Meal Plan

To help give you some ideas of great vegan ketogenic meal options, I have pulled together various recipes that are either vegan or easily converted with single ingredient swaps.

Note: Many of these recipes contain butter. For vegan-friendly versions, you can simply substitute coconut oil (or in some cases, cocoa butter).

Vegan Ketogenic, How To Follow A Vegan Ketogenic Diet

Keto Breakfasts

I am big on liquid nutrition, especially when on a vegan ketogenic diet. Liquid meals are easy to digest and are a great way to add plenty of healthy fats to the diet. I also use these types of recipes as an opportunity to utilize MCT oils to provide my body with an easily convertible source of ketones. These are some of my favorite recipes:

Turmeric Fat Burning Coffee

This recipe is a great morning pick-me-up that also has anti-inflammatory benefits. You get the antioxidant benefits of turmeric and organic coffee, plus good healthy fats to get your day started. I personally make this on busy days when I need to be on my mental game. Simply switch out the butter for coconut oil or cocoa butter and you have yourself a vegan ketogenic coffee that will keep you full for hours.

Vegan Ketogenic, How To Follow A Vegan Ketogenic Diet

Keto Matcha Green Tea

Matcha is a green tea powder that is insanely nutritious with tons of benefits for the brain and body.

Containing less caffeine than coffee, in addition to the relaxing amino acid L-theanine, this option provides a smoother stimulation to start your day. All you need is hot water, matcha, coconut oil (or MCT oil), and full-fat coconut milk (sweetener optional).

Vegan Ketogenic, How To Follow A Vegan Ketogenic Diet

Coconut Dandelion Coffee

If you are sensitive to caffeine or just prefer to do without, this dandelion “coffee” is a great option. This is essentially a caffeine-free herbal substitute that tastes similar to coffee. Using this Dandy Blend instant mix and a bit of full-fat coconut milk and you are ready to start your day.

Dandelion is also great for healthy liver function. To kick up the anti-inflammatory potential of this one, you can add cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, and a bit of stevia.

Vegan Ketogenic, How To Follow A Vegan Ketogenic Diet


For lunch, you want to get in plenty more healthy fats, a moderate amount of protein, and plenty of fiber. What I do personally, and what I recommend to many of my clients, is either a big salad or another liquid meal. I like to consume only one solid meal a day during the time I am most relaxed (at night) to facilitate better digestion.

Doing the liquid nutrition during the day really helps free up energy for physical and mental exertion while helping to maintain an optimal state of ketosis. Consider trying this strategy to reduce the energetic burden of digestion during the day.

Gut Healing Protein Pudding

This is a super anti-inflammatory and ketogenic recipe with only 4 ingredients. It features my Gut Healing Protein for added nutrition and to support a healthy gut lining. I make this 2-3 times per week personally. I would recommend adding in a Tbsp. of MCT oil for an added boost to get you through the afternoon with no crash or hunger.

Vegan Ketogenic, How To Follow A Vegan Ketogenic Diet

Blueberry Gut Healing Protein Shake

This is a variation of the pudding recipe above except with blueberries for added antioxidant benefits. Blueberries are also great for healing the gut lining and supporting optimal brain function.

Vegan Ketogenic, How To Follow A Vegan Ketogenic Diet

Chocolate Chia Super Smoothie

This is a rich, chocolatey smoothie recipe that is loaded with superfoods like raw cacao, chia, flax, and blueberries. Blend this with a high-quality vegan ketogenic protein powder and you’ve got yourself a solid meal loaded with magnesium, potassium, antioxidants, and plenty of healthy fats. Add in an avocado for an extra creamy texture and to increase fiber content.

Vegan Ketogenic, How To Follow A Vegan Ketogenic Diet

Avocado Salad

If you are someone who would rather have something more solid for lunch, a big salad full of veggies and fresh herbs is a great option.   You can try our avocado salad recipe, which is delicious!

This recipes contains grass-fed cheese; however this can easily be replaced. Load this one up with avocado, a splash of MCT or olive oil, olives, and some tempeh or sprouted pumpkin seeds for protein.

Vegan Ketogenic, How To Follow A Vegan Ketogenic Diet


Dinner, for most people, tends to be the most relaxed meal of the day. This is a great time to get into a state of gratitude and reflect on the positive notes of your day. Getting into this state of gratitude will put your body in a relaxed state to facilitate better digestion. This is when I typically advocate consuming the largest meal of the day.

Here you will likely need to get creative but there is definitely potential for some great vegan ketogenic dinner recipes. For some inspiration you can follow this simple template:

Base: Shirataki Noodles, Zucchini Noodles, Cauliflower Rice

Filler: Fibrous, Non-Starchy Veggies

Protein: Tempeh or sprouted nuts & seeds

Topping: Get creative with fat sources in making a sauce, for example this avocado pesto recipe. You can also make nut-based sauces for added protein.

Vegan Ketogenic, How To Follow A Vegan Ketogenic Diet

Another great vegan ketogenic option for dinner is to make some kind of soup or stew. Curries are great using full-fat coconut milk as the base. Next adding in plenty of vegetables and a vegan ketogenic protein source like pumpkin seeds or tempeh make this a perfect meal.

For more inspiration, check out the following recipes:

Garlic Basil Squash Spaghetti

SuperCharged Coconut Curry (Replace chicken broth with vegetable broth and your choice of protein)

Creamy Coconut Guacamole Wraps (Add in your choice of protein)

Vegan Ketogenic, How To Follow A Vegan Ketogenic Diet


Dessert is the most satisfying part of the meal. It’s even better eating a delicious dessert that you know is providing your body with health benefits. This is also another great chance to load up on healthy fats.

Recipes containing eggs can be easily substituted by ground flaxseed, chia, or almond butter while maintaining ketogenic macronutrient ratios. Also, don’t limit these to only dessert time. These recipes can also serve as great high-fat snacks to satisfy your sweet tooth at any time during the day.

Vegan Ketogenic, How To Follow A Vegan Ketogenic Diet

Coconut Lemon Glazed Cookie Bites

These taste delicious and are completely vegan and fairly easy to make!

Coconut Flour Keto Donut Holes

Rich, satisfying, and tasty meal replacement or a snack on a vegan ketogenic diet. What more could you ask for?

Vegan Ketogenic, How To Follow A Vegan Ketogenic Diet

Coconut Short Bread Cookies

Switch out the butter with coconut oil or cocoa butter and you’ve got yourself a delicious cookie.

Coconut Milk Ice Cream

Ice cream can be vegan, ketogenic, and delicious. Start with full fat coconut milk and build from there, add in berries, vanilla flavoring, or cacao powder and stevia to taste. After a quick freeze, all you have to do is throw it in the blender and there you have it. Pure simplicity.

Vegan Ketogenic, How To Follow A Vegan Ketogenic Diet

More Delicious Dessert Ideas:

Turmeric Coconut Cream Cups

Chocolate Avocado Dessert Bars

Chocolate Avocado Truffles

Vegan Ketogenic, How To Follow A Vegan Ketogenic Diet


Following a ketogenic diet correctly, you should have very little cravings for snack foods. Sometimes a snack can be satisfying, I get it. I have some recipes for that that are both ketogenic and vegan friendly.

One of my go-to combinations are Homemade Keto Crackers with Lemon Creamy Superfood Guacamole. This combination satisfies the desire for a salty and crunchy snack while effectively satisfying hunger. Keto crackers and these keto chips also go well with this cashew artichoke dip or our coconut keto ranch dressing.

Vegan Ketogenic, How To Follow A Vegan Ketogenic Diet

Additional Considerations

While some people respond well to a plant-based diet, many people simply do not. If you are someone who has been following a plant-based diet, have taken the extra precautions to make up for any possible nutrient deficiencies, and are struggling to overcome any kind of chronic health conditions, you may consider adding in specific animal-based foods.

For some people, following more of a vegetarian-style diet can maintain ethical standards while providing more complete nutrition.  This can be achieved on a vegan ketogenic diet but it is challenging.

If you are considering adding back in animal-based products, it would probably be most beneficial to add them back slowly. The three I would recommend to adding first are grass-fed butter, pasture-raised eggs, and wild-caught fish if you choose to consume meat.

Vegan Ketogenic, How To Follow A Vegan Ketogenic Diet

Grass-fed Butter

A great first addition when transitioning back from a vegan diet is grass-fed butter. Grass fed butter is packed with fat soluble vitamins, fat-burning CLA, omega-3 fatty acids, and the short chain fatty acid butyrate.

Try adding grass-fed butter to steamed veggies or in a turmeric fat burning coffee.  Most people love the flavor of grass fed butter and it provides valuable fat soluble nutrients.

Vegan Ketogenic, How To Follow A Vegan Ketogenic Diet

Organic, Pasture-Raised Eggs

In addition to grass-fed butter, eggs from pasture-raised chickens are an excellent and complete source of nutrition. Eggs contain complete protein, omega-3 fats, Vitamin D, B Vitamins, Iron, Calcium, and more. Eggs are one of the most nutritionally complete foods on the planet.

Also, you should not be concerned about the cholesterol content. In fact, cholesterol plays an important role in forming sex hormones in the body as well as healthy brain tissue.

Vegan Ketogenic, How To Follow A Vegan Ketogenic Diet

Wild-Caught Fish

If you are really struggling with your health and are considering adding animal meats back into your diet, wild-caught fish should be your go-to. The long-chain fatty acids EPA and DHA are absolutely critical for the health of your brain and nervous system.

While you are able to convert a small amount of plant based omega-3 fats into EPA and DHA, it simply is not an efficient process and does not satisfy the body’s needs.  The best fish for this are Alaskan salmon, mackerel, sardines, and Alaskan cod.

If you are not considering adding fish back into your diet, you may be able to derive some benefit from supplementing with an algae-based omega-3.

Vegan Ketogenic, How To Follow A Vegan Ketogenic Diet


Two dietary trends that are rapidly growing are the ketogenic diet and the vegan/plant-based movement. Traditionally, vegan diets tend to be extremely high in carbohydrates and low in fats (which is the opposite of a ketogenic diet). As we discover more benefits of a ketogenic diet, those who are following plant-based diets are looking to change the way they eat.

Here I have laid the foundation for following a vegan ketogenic diet. I am interested to hear your experiences and any new strategies you have found helpful on your own ketogenic journey!

Vegan Ketogenic, How To Follow A Vegan Ketogenic Diet

Sources For This Article Include:

1. Raygan, F., Bahmani, F., Kouchaki, E., Aghadavod, E., Sharifi, S., Akbari, E., … Asemi, Z. (2016). Comparative effects of carbohydrate versus fat restriction on metabolic profiles, biomarkers of inflammation and oxidative stress in overweight patients with type 2 diabetic and coronary heart disease: A randomized clinical trial. ARYA Atherosclerosis, 12(6), 266–273. PMID: 28607566
2. Steckhan, N., Hohmann, C.-D., Kessler, C., Dobos, G., Michalsen, A., & Cramer, H. (2016). Effects of different dietary approaches on inflammatory markers in patients with metabolic syndrome: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutrition, 32(3), 338–348. PMID: 26706026
3. Levine, M. E., Suarez, J. A., Brandhorst, S., Balasubramanian, P., Cheng, C. W., Madia, F., … Longo, V. D. (2014). Low protein intake is associated with a major reduction in IGF-1, cancer, and overall mortality in the 65 and younger but not older population. Cell Metabolism, 19(3), 407–417. PMID: 24606898
4. Vidali, S., Aminzadeh, S., Lambert, B., Rutherford, T., Sperl, W., Kofler, B., & Feichtinger, R. G. (2015). Mitochondria: The ketogenic diet – A metabolism-based therapy. International Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, 63, 55–59. PMID: 25666556
5. Bough, K. J., Wetherington, J., Hassel, B., Pare, J. F., Gawryluk, J. W., Greene, J. G., … Dingledine, R. J. (2006). Mitochondrial biogenesis in the anticonvulsant mechanism of the ketogenic diet. Annals of Neurology, 60(2), 223–235. PMID: 16807920
6. Xie, J., Wang, X., & Proud, C. G. (2016). mTOR inhibitors in cancer therapy. F1000Research, 5, 2078. PMID: 27635236

Vegan Ketogenic, How To Follow A Vegan Ketogenic Diet

Was this article helpful?
Dr. Jockers

Dr David Jockers is passionate about seeing people reach their health potential in mind, body and spirit. He is the host of the popular “Dr Jockers Functional Nutrition” podcast and the author of the best-selling books, “The Keto Metabolic Breakthrough” and “The Fasting Transformation.”


Diets Nutrition

Let's Improve Your Health Today!

Get instant access to 2 FREE eBooks when you subscribe to Dr. Jockers’ newsletter.


"Join my tribe today to discover hidden strategies to improve your energy, brain, digestion & metabolism."

— Dr. David Jockers
Dr Jockers




  1. Hello Dr. Jockers

    I had been looking for information for some of my patients who are vegetarians for a long time.
    This guide is great to guide people who are vegetarian
    Thank you very much

  2. Dr. Jockers,
    Are you aware of any organizations or groups that are spreading the word about the lies and misinformation given to the people by the BIG Food industry? There must be some organization fighting the lies of the past 75 years….
    Dr. Chris Curran Dombrowski

  3. Thanks for taking the time to write this article! Informative with some great looking recipes!
    If I may be picky though, I’d argue your following statement until the cows come home: “For some people, following more of a vegetarian-style diet can maintain ethical standards”. I respectfully disagree. For the production of egg & dairy products, animal suffering and slaughter still has to occur.
    That said, I’m glad to have found your article which taught me a lot & confirms my suspicions, ‘ vegan keto is difficult….but doable’. Feeling great from a fast & 3 days keto so I’m up for the challenge! Thanks again!

    1. Hey Hannah! I’m glad you found value in this article! There are a number of farms that are taking a slaughter-free approach towards producing milk and eggs but I understand where you are coming from. Glad you are feeling great!

  4. thank you Dr. jockers for the great article

    if you do not mind, can I use some information from this article and use it in my term report?

    if you do not mind , i need date of publication ..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.