At first, switching lifestyle to eating low carb took a lot of work. Giving up oatmeal and Ezekiel bread isn’t easy. What are you going to replace it with?
But after a week of experimenting and learning about all the different types of low carb foods, it actually became quite easy and I didn’t miss the high carb foods at all.
But what about vegetarians and vegans?
Sometimes, I’ll get a vegetarian or vegan join my Drop a Dress Size group. They get the same meal plan as everyone else, which includes foods like animal protein, dairy, and eggs. It involves a little more work for them to adjust to a low carb lifestyle and make the appropriate substitutions, but in the end, they do figure it out quite well and feel much better when making the switch to more low carb foods.
WHY EAT LOW CARB AS A VEGETARIAN OR VEGAN?
Over the past few years, low carb diets have been shown to improve health in many ways.
A lot of people who switch to low carb diets find they can lose weight a little easier. Personally, I find I don’t have to count calories or macros anymore. I can eat a lot of food without it affecting my weight. When I was eating a higher carb diet, I would be hungry every two hours. I was literally eating 6 meals a day!
Eating that often has an effect on our insulin levels, causing them to rise and ultimately, leading to more fat storage on our body.
A low carb vegetarian or vegan diet can also have many health benefits. It seems that a low carb vegetarian or vegan diet is healthier than the typical low fat vegetarian or vegan diet.
VEGETARIAN VS. VEGAN
For a vegetarian, a low carb diet is a little easier than it would be for a vegan because vegetarians typically consume some dairy products.
For those vegetarians who consume dairy products, there are many options for low carb foods.
Low Carb Dairy Vegetarian Foods:
Eggs: Eggs are high in protein and healthy fats. Aim for pasture raised and free-range eggs when possible.
Grass Fed Butter: Butter from grass-fed cows is much higher in Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin K2, compared to butter from grain-fed cows.
Greek Yogurt & Kefir: Full fat, unsweetened yogurt is a great source of protein and probiotics.
Full Fat Cheese: Full fat cheese contains vitamins and minerals, including calcium, zinc, phosphorus, vitamins A, D, B2 (riboflavin) and B12.
Low Carb Plant Based Foods For Vegetarians and Vegans:
There are many low carb plant based foods which both vegetarians and vegans can enjoy.
Vegetables: Low carb vegetables include leafy greens, asparagus, bell peppers, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, cucumbers, mushrooms, radishes, turnips, and zucchini.
Fruits: While fruits tend to be higher in carbs than vegetables, there are a few fruits that work wonderfully on a low carb diet. These include blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, watermelon, lemon, and limes.
Some high fat fruits that are a staple on a low carb diet include avocados, coconut, and olives.
Nuts & Seeds: Nuts and seeds are perfect on a low carb vegetarian or vegan diet. Some high fat nuts and seeds include almonds, Brazil nuts, chia seeds, hemp seeds, macadamia nuts, pecans, and walnuts. You can also use nut and seed butters. *Just make sure to watch for added ingredients like sugar and preservatives.
Oils: There are so many oils available today! These include almond, avocado, coconut, flaxseed, hemp, macadamia, MCT, olive, palm kernel, etc. Another great option is ghee if you prefer not to have any dairy.
Plant-Based Protein: Protein doesn’t mean you have to eat meat. There are plenty of low carb plant-based proteins to choose from. These include amaranth, hemp seeds, legumes (some low carb legumes include tofu, soybeans, tempeh, lentils, split peas, peanuts, and lima beans,) quinoa, spirulina.
Here are some common low carb vegetarian and vegan food swaps:
HOW MANY CARBS SHOULD I HAVE?
There is no correct number as to how many carbs you should eat on a low carb diet. It’s about figuring out what works for you.
A vegetarian may be able to eat lower carb than a vegan. A vegetarian may be able to go as low as 50g of carbs per day, but a vegan may have to stick to the 100 – 150g of carbs per day.
LOW CARB MEAL PLAN FOR VEGETARIANS:
Here is a link to a 4 week low carb vegetarian meal plan.
LOW CARB MEAL PLAN FOR VEGANS:
Here is a link to a low carb vegan meal plan.
As you can see from these meal plans and foods listed, it is possible to be a vegetarian or vegan and enjoy all the benefits of a low carb lifestyle!
Are you a vegetarian or vegan enjoying a low carb way of eating? If so, please let us know your favourite low carb go-to meals in the comments below!