Why Am I Gaining Weight On A Vegan Diet Or Why A Vegan Diet Isn’t Necessarily The Magic Bullet For Weight Loss

I’ve written before about my free vegan weight loss plan that will help you get into the shape you want. I’ve also written about losing weight for vegetarians and also the difference between vegetarian and vegan weight loss as well as a vegan diet plan.

The reason I’ve written so much about diet and weight loss – and there will be more to come – is because I believe that diet or what you stuff in your maw is more important than exercise when it comes to getting into shape.

I’d say that diet is at least 80% of your weight loss success and I’d even be inclined to suggest that diet is 100% attributable to your weight loss.

That is to say that if you only changed your diet you could lose all the weight you wanted without having to add exercise at all. Not to say that exercise isn’t important. It is, it has health promoting benefits and it can help you look better with better muscle tone once you’ve lost all that weight through diet. But if you’re just looking to lose weight, you don’t need to worry about exercise at all.

And this brings us to the topic at hand:

Why am I gaining weight on a vegan diet?
I’m going to tell you why and what you can do about it to reverse the trend.

Gaining or losing weight is almost entirely a function of mathematical physiology. By this I mean that if you eat more calories in a day than your body can use as fuel and for repair – and you do this over time – then you will gain weight.

Conversely, if you eat less calories than your body needs for fuel and other physiological functions – and you do this consistently over time – then you will lose weight. It’s really as simple as that.

Now I know there are tons of books that try and make it more complicated but at its essence that is how you gain and lose bodyweight or more specifically body fat.

And the vegan diet is by no means the magic pill to weight loss or maintaining an ideal body weight. It helps to be sure, and there is some evidence that eating a vegan diet does increase your metabolism to a degree.

And several studies are showing that vegans as a whole are less likely to be overweight and to have higher BMI readings than meat eaters.

So being vegan is definitely a step in the right direction for weight loss as well as weight management, but there are vegans who are fat, though that only affects a small portion of us as compared to meat eating folks. And I think the reason it does is that many of us who become vegan do it for the ethics and for compassionate reasons as I’ve written about before. As such, we don’t pay enough attention to our diet as we should.

So why are some vegans fat?

Because of 2 things. We eat too much food and we eat too much junk food. We’re junk food vegans.

And this is an easy fix. What I’d recommend is that you get an idea of what your BMR is. Your BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) is the number of calories you need to eat in order to maintain your current weight. This link will provide you with one of the free online programs I use to determine that. It is reasonably accurate… probably within 10%.

When filling out your details online and you’re unsure of your activity level, use a level lower than you think you are at.

Now once you have your BMR, and let’s say for the purpose of this argument it is 2,000 calories, you’ll know need to start counting calories.

I’m sorry, but if you’re serious about not being an overweight vegan anymore I find this part to be crucial. You need to do it for at least 7 days. The reason for counting calories is that most of us who are overweight have grossly exaggerated ideas about what traditional portion sizes are and how many calories we estimate are in the foods we eat.

The Mayo Clinic has a great slideshow on what real serving sizes should be.

Another tip is to use your smartphone to take pictures of everything you eat. Reviewing your daily intake at the end of the day can be very eye opening. You actually see how much food you ate the whole day. And it is likely to be more than you think.

In summary, here’s how to stop gaining weight on a vegan diet and how to lose the weight you have gained.

1. Figure out your BMR
2. Count all calories you eat in a day
3. Don’t exceed your BMR
4. Take pictures of all the food you eat

That’s pretty much it. Now here are some additional tips that can help because most likely our problem with gaining weight on a vegan diet is that we’re eating too much of the wrong foods.

So eliminate junk food at least 6 days out of every 7. No chocolate, no fries or deep fried foods. No more donuts or vegan ice cream. No liquid calories like chocolate soy milk or pop. No candies etc.

It’s not gonna be easy, but you can do it if you remain committed. If you must have a treat or some junk food, make sure you eat only 1 serving. This is pretty small compared to what you usually have given yourself, but it’ll help you feel less deprived. As an example, a serving of soda would be 8 ounces not a full can. A serving of chocolate is half an ounce or about 2 to 3 squares. A serving of chips is about 1 ounce or 10 chips.


  1. This was helpful and packed full of information – I am getting spoiled by so much great & helpful information that is then backed by great music – straight to hell, clash, wow. excellent choice as is the ‘mock’ image. Great. Yes, people also need to be reminded of what ‘dairy’ really is, a chopped up cow. Plain and simple. Thank u as ever.

    1. Thank you my K9 friend,

      This is my goal, to help folks become the healthiest vegans possible and help those vegan-curious folks take a go at the lifestyle.

      Stay plant strong, and eat your peas 😉


  2. Great web- love the writing and all the info- One question- What other options are Ok for lunch if your not in the mood for stew-soup-or salads..?

    1. Hi Kat,

      Thanks for the question. I like sandwiches. Sometimes I’ll make a BLT with veggie bacon of course, mustard, tomato, vegenaise, salt and pepper and some mixed greens on top. Pretty filling and around 450 to 500 cals. Amy’s also makes tons of great quick microwaveable meals that are vegan and cost around $5.

      And who says you have to have lunch food for lunch. Sometimes, lunch is my first meal of the day so I’ll eat a bowl of cereal or oatmeal. I think the key is to find foods you love and not eat more calories than you need.

      Verily vegan,


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