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picture of guy holding no meat sign for meat free keto book review liz mcdowell

Liz MacDowell is here to help – and if you’re planning on transitioning to a vegan keto diet, you are going to need a lot of help in the beginning. In her book, Meat Free Keto, she shares some practical tips, as well as mouth-watering recipes to help you kick those carb cravings to the curb. Our Meat Free Keto Book Review….

How to Eat Keto Without Eating Meat 

When most people hear keto, they think bacon and eggs fried in butter with a cup of cream to chase it all down. Well, not anymore! 

Luckily for the vegan keto newbies out there, Liz has done all the work for you with a dash of deliciousness. She started eating vegan keto in 2012 and, at that time, the Internet was overflowing with information about doing keto the traditional way. But those who opted to adopt a life free from animal products were left in the dark. Enter Liz, who smashed through the limits of traditional keto to live her cruelty-free best life. 

In an interview with Leanne Vogel from Healthful Pursuit, Liz revealed that she had been vegetarian since 12 or 13 because “animals are cute, and I don’t want to eat them”. We stan, Liz. 

Later, when she went vegan, she discovered that eating high carb wasn’t doing anything for her; she gained weight, was exhausted, was hungry all the time; and couldn’t stay warm even when it was hot outside. This, despite eating what “experts” call the ideal human diet. 

These negative effects weren’t being discussed in the vegan community, according to Liz, so she ended up feeling like she was doing something wrong. But this, what she calls “unnecessary self-pity”, drove her to look into alternatives. 

“And being a little bit impulsive and a little bit, I guess, crazy, as I am, I decided to just go the entire opposite route. I was like, oh okay, I’ve been doing high-carb, and it sucks. I’ll just go with low-carb now, and we’ll see how that works out,” Liz explained. 

She stumbled onto the ketogenic diet and thought there must be a way to adapt that to a vegan lifestyle – and through trial and error – Meat Free Keto was born. 

A World of Vegan Keto Benefits 

Liz could instantly feel an improvement after eating fewer carbs. She lost over 20 pounds, her mood stabilized, and she discovered an overall better quality of life and health. 

“But as I progressed with it, I realized that so many health issues that I didn’t even realize I had were disappearing,” said Liz. 

Apart from the above, she said thanks to eating the vegan keto way, she stopped thinking about food every second of the day. Thanks healthy fats. We love you!

She says the fact that she was paying attention to the foods she ate as a whole – looking at ingredients and macronutrients – shifted her mind from a “hungry, must snack” approach to a more balanced one. 

Meat Free Keto Book Review: Carb Count

Since vegan keto is a step away from the high-carb diet vegans are used to, tracking your carb intake is essential to reach your ultimate goal – ketosis.

The principle is fairly simple: limit your carbs to between 5-10% of your daily macros. Now, that number is pretty scary if you’ve been vegan for a while and count on starchy vegetables to meet your protein mark. But don’t worry, by upping the healthy fats and protein you eat a day, you will be able to smash that protein target. 

Liz has been vegan keto for a long time now, so she can just eyeball it and do “lazy keto”, as she calls it. But even this vegan keto pro still tracks her food every now and again, especially when she can’t resist the blueberries. When she does track, she usually comes in at around 40-50g net carbs. One lucky woman! Not all of us can eat so many carbs and still stay in ketosis – just goes to show that we’re all different and you can’t take a one-glove-fits-all approach. 

Meat Free Keto Book Review: Protein Go-Tos 

Soy is one of those controversial and confusing topics when it comes to being vegetarian or vegan. One study says it’s a wonder protein; another says just looking at it will cause cancer. Since tofu and tempeh, two of a vegan keto diet’s main sources of protein, are made from soy, a lot of people steer clear of it. Luckily, in Meat Free Keto, you will find recipes that cater to you if you’re sensitive to soy. Liz herself isn’t a huge fan of keto as she says it upsets her stomach. But she will eat tempeh on occasion as it’s easier for her system to digest. So, whether you’re pro- or anti-soy, this book will have you covered. 

Nuts and seeds also high-protein foods, hemp seeds in particular. And Liz is a huge fan of eating nuts and seeds as a big chunk of her protein intake. To up it a little, she’ll at times munch on a protein bar or drink a protein shake. Although she says it’s not really necessary as she gets more than enough protein in from just eating vegan keto.  

“…there isn’t really a vegan fat that exists in nature by itself. It’s always packaged with something else like proteins or carbohydrates. Since I’m eating a low-carb diet, all the vegan fats that are out there are pretty protein-rich.”

And you can take her word for it, she is a certified holistic nutrition consultant specializing in a whole-foods, plant-based, low-carb way of eating!

In the beginning, Liz struggled with finding enough protein sources. 

“When I first started out, I think I was basically just doing protein powder for protein because I didn’t know where else to find it,” said Liz. 

But she doesn’t want you to battle, so she included a comprehensive list of protein sources in her book. It’s not broken down by specific aminos, as that may be very confusing when first starting vegan keto, but it will explain in detail where to get your protein fix.

Meat Free Keto Book Review: Vegan Fats 

You can expect to eat a lot of good fats on a vegan keto diet. But that is a good thing as you will feel fuller for longer while your body is slowly eating away at that muffin top of yours. 

Healthy fats also keep you warm, builds cells, protects your organs and, in general, just helps your body run as smoothly as a well-oiled machine. *wink*

Liz loves making sauces out of tahini and putting it on everything – even avocados. You’ll find some tasty recipes in her book, and it includes a week-long vegan keto meal plan and a shopping list!  

Meat Free Keto Book Review: Deficiencies and Supplementation 

When you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you will have to keep your eye on getting in all the nutrients you require to function healthily – and unfortunately, it is not always possible with just food. 

Studies have shown that vegetarians and vegans (and this include those eating vegan keto) are prone to the following deficiencies:

  • B12
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Zinc 
  • Long-chain fatty acids
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin K2

At first, like Liz, you will have to be a little obsessive and track everything to make sure you are getting everything you need. Are you getting enough leucine today? How is your valine looking? But later, as you settle into the vegan keto lifestyle, and you are eating diverse types of foods, you will know where you are lacking. Liz does, however, suggest that you track every so often, just to make sure you’re on the right track. 

When it comes to B12, it’s best to drink a supplement. 

“I realize that despite the fact that people seem to think that you can get B-12 from plant-based sources, the research on that is so shaky and so paper-thin, that I honestly don’t trust it. So, I just supplement,” explained Liz. 

According to Liz, your liver can store seven years’ worth of B12. Which means if you get tested and see your B12 levels are low, they are REALLY low. 

“All of my vegan friends who insist that they can get B12 from plant sources because they, and I quote, “feel fine”, I want to shake them.”

Take Liz’s advice and supplement with B12 – it’s really important. 

Meat Free Keto Book Review: Carb-ups

All the keto fanatics, don’t at us – sometimes (and really, we mean sometimes) you just genuinely want some carbs. And that is okay, ask Liz. She doesn’t plan carb-up days but will go with her gut: “You know when you’re just feeling a little bit run down, or maybe I’ve had a really active week, and I just think, you know, I really want some carbs today. I’m craving carbs. I don’t think that that’s a bad thing. I’m gonna go for it.” 

But remember, carb-up or carbo-loading is not a cheat day in the sense of stuffing your face with doughnuts; there are healthy carbs out there, ya know? So, if you’re really in the mood for carbs, eat a sweet potato or heck, go wild and eat a regular potato! 

Meat Free Keto Book Review: Recipe Ideas 

Whenever you start something news, especially a diet like vegan keto where you have to juggle fats, carbs and proteins while thinking about amino acids and, and, and, you may feel overwhelmed when it comes to what to eat. But don’t run for the hills, you’ll get the hang of it, and pretty soon you will be like Liz, who looks for meal ideas on places like Pinterest and then just magically makes it vegan keto-friendly! Okay, you may not be there yet, but lucky for you, the Meat Free Keto Book contains recipes and tips and tricks that can turn you into the next vegan keto culinary marvel. 

Some Words of Encouragement

Liz wants you to stop stressing. 

“I think we just need to stop focusing on these crazy targets that only stress us out, and start realizing that we just, I don’t know, you gotta keep on keeping on. Eventually, either it works, or it doesn’t. And if it doesn’t work, you move on.”

This is especially for women who are trying a vegan keto diet to lose weight. They get bombarded with testimonials and photos of men dropping huge amounts of weight in the first two weeks. But when they look at female results, it’s like half a pound in the first two weeks. That pushes them into a flat spin and the voices of self-doubt floods in. 

As Nemo’s pal, Dory, would say: “Just keep swimming.” 

Focus on eating a healthy, low-carb diet, and everything will most likely fall in place. 

Meat Free Keto Book Review: Conclusion

Meat Free Keto is the ultimate guide to vegan keto and a must-have book if you’re just starting this journey, or even if you’ve been on it for long. It contains all the information you need to make the right decisions when it comes to what you put into your mouth on a daily basis. 

Liz lists where you can get your protein from, including fake meat sources because she knows people will eat it, so they might as well know more about it. She talks about vegetables and fruits – and yes, you’re allowed to eat fruit on keto. She tackles supplementation and how you don’t really need to waste your money on so many supplements but rather focus on key ones like B12. And, as mentioned earlier, Meat Free Keto comes complete with a seven-day meal plan and recipes and the shopping list that goes along with it. 

Liz makes it clear that keto isn’t a specific set of rules; we’re all our own people with our own dietary preferences. She believes keto is a state of being, and as long as you’re in ketosis, how you got there is your issue. 

To recap, what will you find in Meat Free Keto:

  • 100+ pages of vegan keto information
  • Answers to commonly-asked questions
  • Breakdown of foods and the macronutrient profiles that are best for a vegan keto diet
  • Guidelines on calories and carbs 
  • Supplementation advice 
  • Week-long vegan keto meal plan
  • Recipes
  • Shopping list

Liz MacDowell has also written a Vegan Keto Cookbook, as well as Keto for Women. Go check it out. 


If you want to eat up any more of our tasty content you can check our other vegan keto blog articles here.

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