The Dukan diet for vegetarians is going to be especially difficult. Like the Atkins diet and other paleo diets, the Dukan diet is based around meat as a high protein diet.
Now in the interest of transparency, I have not read the book The Dukan Diet and I have also not tried the Dukan Diet and I won’t. I’ve lost all the weight, over 25 pounds, that I need to just eating whatever I want but keeping calories in check. My program is going to be released soon. In the meantime you can read how to lose weight on a vegan diet through those links.
So my explanation of the Dukan Diet is based on research and the understanding I have gathered from that. In a nutshell, don’t do the Dukan Diet. Eating so much meat is harmful and not healthy regardless of the success of losing the weight you want.
Eating the Dukan Diet as a vegan is going to be highly restrictive, boring, not fun and require buckets of determination. There are better and easier ways to lose weight.
How to do the Dukan Diet for vegetarians
The Dukan Diet covers 4 phases from the strictest phase the “Attack” phase through phase 2 (Cruise), phase 3 (Consolidation) and the easiest phase, phase 4 (Stabilization).
You start with the Attack phase or phase 1. This Attack phase seems to last about a week or so from what I can tell. In this phase you eat nothing but protein and 2 tbsp of oat bran a day.
For a vegan you will be eating only tofu and/or seitan for the full 5 to 7 days. Vegetarians can include low fat dairy.
You can drink as much water as you want and it is recommended to drink lots of water. Black unsweetened coffee and tea without milk are allowed as are diet sodas. You are also supposed to walk for 20 minutes a day during this phase.
In phase 2, the Cruise phase, this is the phase you will likely be at for the longest time. You stay on this phase basically until you have reached your goal weight. Your goal weight is determined by answering a bunch of questions on the Dukan Diet website.
Now let me be clear, unless you just have 10 or 20 pounds to lose, you’ll likely be stuck on phase 2 of the Dukan Diet for weeks and more likely many months. It’s going to bore you to tears.
In this phase you can only eat from a list of 100 foods. Yeah, sounds great, you can eat as much as you want from that list, but that list is made up of very low calorie veggies or high protein meat. No fruit, no carbs, no breads and pastas. You’re losing weight on this diet because you’re so friggin’ hungry all the time and you can’t eat enough calories.
As a vegan, this list of 100 foods from which you can eat with abandon shrinks drastically down to about 29. Here are the 29 foods you can eat to your heart’s content:
Broccoli/purple sprouting broccoli
Cabbage: white/red/Savoy/cauliflower/Chinese leaves/kohlrabi/kale/Brussels sprout (all types of cabbage)
French beans/string beans/mangetout
Salad leaves: all types of lettuce/rocket/watercress/alfalfa/curly endive/sorrel
Vegetarians can eat about half a dozen more foods like eggs and low fat dairy products.
During this phase you eat about 4 or 5 days as pure protein days with your oat bran and then the remaining 2 or 3 days you can have protein and veggie days. You alternate the protein days with the protein + veggie days.
You continue to take lots of water and your 2 tbsp of oat bran. You also now increase your walking to 30 minutes per day. Remember, you could be on this phase eating only from these 29 foods for months. This is going to be hard. And losing weight doesn’t have to be that hard!
In phase 3, the Consolidation phase, you are given a little more leeway. At this stage you are at your goal weight and so the idea here is to maintain your weight.
Here you can eat with abandon your protein and veggies as described above. Additionally, you can add 1 fruit per day, but this mush be watery fruit. So no bananas, cherries, grapes etc. No nuts. You can also have 2 slices of whole grain bread per day with just a smattering of margarine.
In the early part of this Consolidation phase you can have 1 serving of carbs per week. Later in the Consolidation phase you can have up to 2 carbs per week.
What does a carb look like? 1 cup of brown rice, beans, pasta, couscous served with non or low fat sauces like tomato sauce. You can also occasionally have 1 cup of potatoes without fat.
Once a week you can have 1 celebration meal where you can eat pretty much whatever you want. In the second half of the Consolidation phase you can have 2 celebration meals per week, but don’t have them back to back.
To keep you from gaining weight, keep one day as just a pure protein day each week.
You’ll also continue to take your 2 tbsp of oat bran per day, drink lots of water and walk for 25+ minutes per day too.
Figuring out this phase or Stabilization phase which you’ll likely stick to for the rest of your life is a little tricky. It seems to follow Phase 3 to a large degree.
You’ll continue eating one protein meal per week as well as enjoy your piece of fruit, carbs and bread as on Phase 3. You’ll start taking 3 tbsp of oat bran per day and drinking lots (8 cups) of water per day. You’ll also eat mostly proteins and veggies.
From what I’ve read, this phase suggests that you can go back to eating whatever you want, but I don’t think that is really true. If you did that, you’d get back into the problem that you started with, which is too much weight.
It’s likely you’ll stick with the Phase 3 diet for the rest of your life, increasing to 2 celebration meals per week and 2 carbs per week. You’ll also include your 20+ minutes of exercise per day.
Listen, we get fat because we eat too much food through too many calories. Stop doing that and you’ll lose weight. This diet works because it is so restrictive and as such even though you aren’t counting calories it’s hard to eat too many calories. Rather than restrict yourself this way, eat whatever you want but count calories, that’s a lifestyle that you can live with.