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-   -   How To LOWCARB As a Vegetarian (Some Basics for LC Veg in General and Atkins) (http://www.lowcarbfriends.com/bbs/vegetarian/696880-how-lowcarb-vegetarian-some-basics-lc-veg-general-atkins.html)

TaDa! 10-30-2010 08:48 AM

How To LOWCARB As a Vegetarian (Some Basics for LC Veg in General and Atkins)
Vegetarian Proteins
Basically on Atkins, the ONLY difference between a vegetarian and a traditional Atkins follower is the proteins obviously. There are more veg proteins suitable for Atkins than you might think. If you are a vegetarian coming to do Atkins, this will be pretty obvious to you. If you are meateater interested in eating a little less meat, or thinking of giving up meat, this may sound difficult -- but it is the exact same "difficulty" one would have in starting both a "diet plan" and a new lifestyle like vegetarianism would be.

The list of proteins
1. eggs
2. cheese, milk and yogurt
3. Soy: including Veggie burgers and sausages (read labels for carb counts!!), Tofu, Tempeh
4. Quorn (a protein derived from a mushroom! lol!)
5. Seitan (also known as wheat gluten)
6. TVP (textured vegetable protein)
7. Nuts and Seeds!!
8. Beans (rather carby, an OWL add-in, rung 8 on Carb Ladder -- and something I, personally, do not eat regularly, just every now and then. black soybeans are lower carb and a good recipe substitute for recipes with beans)

There are many soy products available in the frozen case of the supermarket, but it is very important to read the labels and be sure you are getting no more than 2-3 net carbs per serving -- at least during induction. Other proteins like tofu and tempeh take a little more vegetarian cooking expertise, and some people find they do not like the flavors. The same can be said for TVP, Seitan and Quorn. My best advice on all of these more "exotic" vegetarian proteins is to get some good cookbooks before you try using them in anything but straight meat substitute fashion ... like using "soy burger crumbles" in standard lc casserole recipes.

And FYI, I have been asked if you can do vegetarian lc without "soy" for those who choose not to eat it for whatever reason and my answer is "Yes you can." Look at the list above and remove item #3 ... you still have all those other proteins to use. And I will say, one protein that is seriously underestimated here on LCF, and in general, is nuts and seeds ... what an amazing protein source!

So, the basic question most non-vegetarians have: How do you actually eat? Basically before lc, a vegetarian would eat a large portion of carb and vegetables with a small amount of protein added ... so, let's say, a plate of brown rice, or couscous, or pasta with veggies and tofu in sauce sitting on top, or veggies and cheese in sauce sitting on top, or a casserole in those proportions .... after lowcarb, we eat the same way the meateaters do, so a large portion of protein with veggies ... the one difference being, maybe, a much larger veggie portion than a meateater might choose to eat - but that is a matter of preference and not one of necessity.

This really is the biggest hurdle, but here are the things I do:

1. eggs, omelettes, etc and a vegetable,

2. A big salad like a Cobb salad minus the turkey or chicken and bacon.

3. Ask for pasta dish minus the pasta, have them put the sauce over a plate of steamed or sauteed veggies like spinach (I looooove this!)

4. Stirfried tofu at the Chinese (watch out for sugary sauces!!! Thai food is a better choice! or ask for a steamed dish)

5. Saag Paneer and other dishes at Indian restaurants

6. Take apart sandwiches and add them to a salad .. did this recently with a grilled cheese and veggie quesadilla. Peeled everything off the tortilla and threw it in my salad with a little sour cream and salsa .. oh yum!

7. If you do eat some meat or fish, this is the time to order it as the most challenging aspect of lc vegetarian is having meals out. (the fish in my diet is generally something I only eat out once or twice a month - and is unnecessary to do a true lacto-ovo Vegetarian style of eating)

Atkins Vegetarian-Style
Here is some information on the vegetarian and vegan options given in The New Atkins For A New You (NANY) by Dr. Eric C. Westman, Dr. Stephen D. Phinney, and Dr. Jeff S. Volek. I finally got to read it and have to say I do like how the authors have finally put into print an Atkins version of vegetarian and vegan eating. I've known it was possible since 2003 and have always been sorry that we have been shut out of any official version of the father of lowcarb's plan! Especially seeing as I lost 100+ pounds on it after suffering vegetarian lowfat diets my whole life ..

In The New Atkins For A New You, both vegans and vegetarian versions of NANY start at OWL, rather than Induction, at the lowest rungs possible to include appropriate plant proteins not included on a traditional Induction. I think this makes a lot of sense! I did induction way back when using Dr. Atkins directives + tofu (minus the meat of course) and it was very very repetitive and hard to get through! I would not personally recommend anyone try it ..

The information on veg Atkins is sprinkled throughout the book and my best advice is to read it all in order to get the best idea of all the options open to you. There is a nice summary and portion guide of the vegetarian proteins like tofu and tempeh, for example, in the induction section (on page 84) and most of the foods in the induction portion of the book - with the exception of the animal proteins and dairy for Vegans - is going to be applicable!

Vegans start in OWL at 50 net carbs, including both rung 3 of the NANY Carb Ladder (seeds and nuts) and rung 6 (legumes) as vegan proteins. The authors do say that weightloss speed will be slower, mostly due to the legumes. Specific instructions on how to include legumes, quantities, and lowest carb counts are given to help a vegan segue from the portion size and usage in high carb vegan eating which is going to differ drastically in lowcarb!!

Vegetarians start in OWL at 30 net carbs and include rung 3, nuts. Vegetarians also have the option of 50 net carbs like Vegans for slower weightloss. I will also add that the authors' addition of yogurt to the definition of "fresh cheeses" for OWL is very helpful! Mind you, I have been adding them in there myself for a few years already, but it is nice to have a Atkins doctor verify this approach!!

I took a look at the menus and they look to me like the typical cookbook menus you get for vegetarians and vegans ... in other words, a little fancy and specialized .. but i am sure there are a lot of great cooks out there for whom that is just perfect, but I tend to just eat a lot of what I like, make up meals based on what I have in the fridge and eat similar menus daily.

Nonetheless the menus are a great resource for wannabe Atkins vegans/vegs! And, I feel similarly about Rose Elliott's The Vegetarian Low-Carb Diet which includes a diet plan, menus and recipes. Her book was out there before NANY and is very much an Atkins-style diet plan. She starts with a 2-week "Carb Cleanse" and then to a broader variety of foods. I think it is worth a read too! ..

I also think there is no such thing as a typical anything -- meateater, vegetarian, vegan, etc. so do not go on my word, if you are interested in this way of eating, check out both books for yourself!! I believe they absolutely complement one another and can be used together.

The Vegetarian Low-Carb Diet Rose Elliott
The New Atkins For A New You by Dr. Eric C. Westman, Dr. Stephen D. Phinney, and Dr. Jeff S. Volek

The New Atkins Carb Ladder!

1. Foundation Vegetables: leafy greens and other low-carb vegetables

2. Dairy Foods high in fat and low in carbs

3. Seeds and Nuts (but not chestnuts, peanuts, or cashews)

4. Berries, cherries and melons (but not watermelon)

5. Whole milk yogurt and fresh cheeses, such as cottage cheese and ricotta

6. Legumes

7. Tomato and vegetable juice "cocktail" (plus more lime and lemon juice)

8. Other fruits (but not fruit juices or dried fruits)

9. Higher-carb vegetables, such as winter squash, carrots and peas

10. Whole grains

Books and Cookbooks
I started a separate thread for this here: http://www.lowcarbfriends.com/bbs/ve...resources.html

Other Moderate Carb Plans
Many of these were not around when I started, but I have always said that if South Beach Diet were around when I did start, it might have been a more obvious choice for a vegetarian to try. Don't get me wrong, I love love love eating higher fat Atkins-style, but the choice of some slightly higher carb foods - like more beans and whole grains - may have worked for me too. I know there other moderate carb plans out there too (still lc in my book!), so if this particular one is not for you, do some research here. There are people who are very knowledgeable on Protein Power, CAD, The Lower GI diet, etc etc! You do NOT have to do lowfat high carb to lose weight as a vegetarian .... yuck!

Hopefully some of the folks on these other plan will post threads with information on how vegetarianism fits into their plans!!!!

And hey! Don't let anyone tell you it cannot be done!!!! Happy Lowcarbing!



toomuchbooty 10-30-2010 10:31 AM

That is great information, I'm glad the new book has information for vegans and vegetarians.

Strawberry 10-30-2010 05:39 PM

I love your "new" atkins ladder for veg-heads! very healthy!

TaDa! 10-30-2010 07:17 PM

Thanks Ladies! As we all know, it is soooooo doable!!

Strawberry .. I guess my label wasn't that great, lol! Good thing you caught that, so I can be more specific! It is the Atkins Carb Ladder as published in New Atkins For A New You.

I was actually quite happy with that book for the vegetarian and vegan-friendly approach, but also some other major things, for me! the addition of yogurt to the rungs, specific mention of vegetarian proteins, and a clarification of Maintenance and what normal maintenance carb levels can be expected (for all, not just us veggies), ha! and improved readability over the more scientific Dr. Atkins' books ...

Strawberry 10-30-2010 07:30 PM

Ooops.. I actually didnt really catch anything, I just thought I liked the pyramid!

I sincerely appreciate you working on this section of the board, Tada.
I'm not a vegetarian (as others will gather from other posts of mine)... but I actually dont eat a lot of meat. Its expensive and I actually just like vegetables/fruit/milk/chese/nuts/etc in their various preparations better than a hunk of meat! So I'm really looking forward to seeing what lowcarb recipes and suggestions are to be shared through this section!

alowcarbgoddess 11-01-2010 11:40 AM

Thank you so much. I am mostly vegetarian and try to limit soy. This post was very helpful. :)

TaDa! 11-01-2010 12:09 PM

Glad it's helpful Strawberry and Goddess!!!

Goddess .. one thing I failed to note up above ... TVP, which is number 6 in the proteins list is also derived from Soy.

Really though there are a variety of proteins that do not include soy ... the dairy and eggs, quorn, seitan, beans (tho' carbier) and most people only use a fraction of the nuts and seeds available to them ..

meeha 11-02-2010 07:33 AM

Just subscribing.... I'm always open to other ideas/information. Thanks for starting this thread.

iheartcookiecrumbs 12-18-2010 02:29 PM


Ralexa 02-15-2011 06:47 AM

Thank you! I have been scared away from low-carb for years because of meat. :clap:

LJB 02-15-2011 06:49 AM

Can I copy and paste this info to a Vegan friend of mind, Tada? I think this may help her.

metqa 02-15-2011 07:04 AM


Originally Posted by TaDa! (Post 14047457)
Glad it's helpful Strawberry and Goddess!!!

Goddess .. one thing I failed to note up above ... TVP, which is number 6 in the proteins list is also derived from Soy.

Really though there are a variety of proteins that do not include soy ... the dairy and eggs, quorn, seitan, beans (tho' carbier) and most people only use a fraction of the nuts and seeds available to them ..

Oh Quorn is very good. I used to have it occasionally when I worked at a health food store regularly. I'm not even vegetarian and I really enjoyed it a lot. It's derived from mushrooms, right? Well, I 'm a big fan of mushrooms, maybe that's why! :laugh:

This is a good thread. :up:

TaDa! 02-15-2011 10:53 AM

lol! Thanks ladies!

Ralexa .. I highly highly recommend those two books above to get your head around doing this meat-free or with less meat. As I mentioned, if you go at it from whatever your current diet situation is, rather than looking at Atkins/lowcarb as a whole different way of eating (protein AND carbs), I think more people could be successful at this:

The Vegetarian Low-Carb Diet Rose Elliott
The New Atkins For A New You by Dr. Eric C. Westman, Dr. Stephen D. Phinney, and Dr. Jeff S. Volek

Lora .. feel free to copy and send it to a friend!

Metga .. I had quorn in Ireland in a few times (they have more frozen-dinner type things over there). I thought it was ok too -- yah it is derived from mushrooms. I think it does have a milk-derived ingredient as well so it is not considered "vegan."

Ralexis 02-17-2011 10:55 AM

I am looking forward to reading the Vegetarian low Carb diet

BTHINNER 02-22-2011 07:25 AM

The New Adkins for a New You sounds interesting

lennoxlewis 03-06-2011 12:52 PM

Thank you for this post, very helpfull.

I am still having problems with milk and yogurt. The labels state many carbs, ad for the milk i dring a quarter of a glass with half a little apple when i get hungry at night.

yogurt is something i really cant find with low carbs... it goes minimum at 20g per 100g serving.

I am currently doing about 5g of carbs per day, so a single yogurt would kill the diet.

thank you

annieS 03-06-2011 01:04 PM

@ lennoxlewis : I am the same, I love yogurt so I started making my own soy yogurt... Actually they taste way better than the one in the store (i think :D) I pick the soy milk with the minimum carb (usually 0,5g/100ml) so my yogurt are really low carb, I'd say 5 for the ones I make from a yogurt I bought, and less when I make yogurts from one of mine...

I add stevia and vanilla beans to the milk... If you're interested i'll give you the recipe ;)

lennoxlewis 03-06-2011 01:33 PM

hello annieS! Today while shopinng the lowest carb soy milk i found had 3.5g per 100. I believe its a lot of carb. That soy milk you have of 0.5 i dont have here... seen about 3 different brands. So i guess thats not an option for me :(

thank you anyway!!!

annieS 03-06-2011 01:38 PM

I guess we don't have the same products here... I find mine in the "organic" store, nothing added to it but I know the ones they sell in regular supermarket are more around 3-5g/100...

Good luck in the quest for LC yogurt !!

lennoxlewis 03-06-2011 01:40 PM

hehehe! i will find it one day!! :laugh:

Aijarama 03-08-2011 11:19 AM

Very nice! Looking for ways to cut down on meat - sometimes a nice dinner of stir-friend veggies is a great easy standby!

lennoxlewis 03-08-2011 12:23 PM


Originally Posted by Aijarama (Post 14450307)
Very nice! Looking for ways to cut down on meat - sometimes a nice dinner of stir-friend veggies is a great easy standby!

exactly, but we must choose vegies wisely..:)

sissaphus 03-19-2011 07:23 PM

Quorn is made from the fungus, Fusarium venenatum - a mold, not from mushrooms.

TaDa! 03-20-2011 04:00 AM

Thanks for the clarification Sissaphus! I have only had quorn overseas .. so very little experience with it!!! It was nice in Ireland to be able to buy a pre-made frozen dinner like thing so I could concentrate on cooking for the non-vegetarians on my vacations, lol!!!

Have you used it much? Any tips for people??!!



violetrose 03-25-2011 06:14 AM

Wow, this is a great thread. I was a lacto ovo vegetarian for a long while, and on and off think of returning to it. But it is so hard for me, since I've been away from it for so long.

I must say, I was my healthiest when I WAS a vegetarian. Hope you don't mind if I hang around, even though I'm still carniverous.

lennoxlewis 03-25-2011 06:29 AM

I believe you should eat as you feel better, if you eat something that is bad for you and you feel fine doing it, then you should not go against it.

But if you are conscious about it and truly feel that it is not good for you, then you will not miss it or crave it.

I do not eat meat (i eat fish) for as long as 8/9 years and i dont crave meat.. it just doesnt make sense to me..

TaDa! 03-25-2011 06:33 AM

Violet ... Glad to have you come in!! Maybe trying to commit to one or two ovo-lacto meals a day could be a way to start if that is what you really would like to do .. no need to go cold turkey!! There is even a whole movement called "Meatless Mondays" (I am trying to work up to a Vegan Monday myself, lol!). I believe that small changes that stick are great ones.

I am not familiar with your woe: The Metabolism Miracle, but most plans can be worked to suit vegetarian tastes.

Nice to meet you!



violetrose 03-25-2011 07:14 AM

Thank you Pauline.

The Metabolism Miracle was written by a RD, Diane Kress in 2009. She has a cookbook and also has a new book The Diabetes Miracle, coming out in November. The titles are pompous (and even she admits she didn't like them at first; apparently the publisher always chooses your titles!)...but it's a good plan. It is for those of us who have alternate metabolisms (metabolic syndrome). I definitely have insulin resistance.

There are three steps. The first step is similar to Atkins but not as restrictive, and must be done for 8 weeks to rest the pancreas. Step 2 is moderate carb and step 3 is maintenance. I believe the percentage of carbs never goes over 33%, if I'm correct, so compared to the typical American diet it is much lower in carbs.

It is definitely vegetarian friendly, so I have no excuse. I signed up with another board, Metabolism Miracle Friends, and the advice for me was to wait a while before going vegetarian, but I don't know. I was one for so long and am totally familiar with what to do, although lowcarbing as a veg is totally different. I did buy a book called The Low Carb Vegetarian. Lots of great recipes and tips.

Glad to be here!

TaDa! 03-25-2011 10:00 AM

Sounds like it definitely fits in with lowcarb and vegetarian! and yeah, lowcarbing vegetarian is all about totally changing your tastes and habits away from a grain-based diet toward a vegetable, fat and protein one .. I can tell you, I never would have thought I could have embraced it and loved it as much as I do now ... lol! To eat gobs of cheese and olive oil and butter all over things is just heaven to me.

I hope it works out for you!!!! If you need any ideas, just post and the folks who lowcarb vegetarian or quasi vegetarian will be by to help out!!!



osoniye 03-26-2011 09:02 AM

Hi TaDa- thanks so much for this thread- it answers many of my questions!!:)

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