Ah, a question as old as time: is it easy to lose weight on a vegan diet? The answer to this oft-asked query is yes. But also definitely no. Will you automatically lose weight on a vegan diet? No. Can you easily lose weight by eating a vegan diet that isn’t depriving you in terms of flavour and quantity? Yes.
Yes, it’s easy to lose weight on a vegan diet
Ever heard of a whole food plant based diet?
I have heard of it, but I don’t really intend doing it. Unless you’re allowed Linda McCartney Vegetarian Sausages, but I have a niggly feeling that they’re suuuper processed and my gut is probably full of their rotting carcasses.
Anyway, it’s a really good way to lose weight in a controlled, sustainable manner, because you don’t have to worry about counting calories or anything, and as long as you’re not going overboard and eating twenty bananas and potatoes a day washed down with a gallon of peanut butter, you’ll be fine.
The whole-food, plant-based diet
You can eat abundantly on a whole food plant-based diet, which sounds counter-intuitive to a lot of people, but hear me out. Plant-based food tends to be lower in calories but bigger in volume than animal products. Imagine how much broccoli you’d need to eat versus the equivalent calories of meat.
A lot of people advocate eating raw foods to lose weight, and I agree to some extent. Raw foods are harder to eat than cooked ones (imagine eating ten raw carrots – it’d take forever compared to eating cooked ones) and are more voluminous so fill you up. They are easier to digest often though s won’t keep you as full for as long.
I would never advocate a fully raw diet though. I can’t – I like (vegan) custard too much. Or even raw till 4. For snacks though, and maybe a handful of meals a week, eating raw foods can be a great way to lose weight.
A whole-food, plant based diet is an incredible weight-loss tool, because:
It’s cheap to lose weight on a vegan diet
Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, and seeds are cheap.
I’m not saying there aren’t expensive options (there are), but you can absolutely follow a whole foods, plant-based diet on a budget.
So, what do you eat?
Unprocessed plants foods with limited amounts of oil. Replace cooking oil with a small amount of water. I promise you won’t taste the difference.
You can make chillis, curries, stirfries, smoothies, sandwiches (bread is obviously processed, but we’re not being evangelical here – choose a whole grain loaf though), oatmeal, etc etc etc.
You can make plenty of sweet treats using small amounts of natural sugar – replace refined sugar with stevia, maple syrup, or date syrup.
It’s simple to lose weight on a vegan diet
Not easy, but simple.
There’s no calorie counting, you can generally have large portions because plant-based whole foods tend to be lower in calories than processed foods, and you don’t have to fill in a food diary, or go to a meeting or whatever.
That’s not to say it’s easy. I’m currently battling a small addiction to Quorn ham, which is making me eat more bread at inopportune times (11pm) than I’d like. I think I’m getting a handle on it though.
Being vegan is not a fad diet, so you won’t just put all the weight back on
By writing this article, I’m actually talking myself into pursuing the whole foods, plant-based lifestyle. I’m going to a wedding soon and I don’t fit into my dress. I really need to kick the Quorn ham.
WFPB is appealing because it’s not a fad diet. You won’t be restricting yourself – hopefully, you’ll end up with a more intuitive approach to food. There’s no waiting impatiently for the sentence to be up – this is a lifestyle. Fancy a vegan magnum ice cream one night? Go for it, but continue with your non-processed foods after.
No, it’s super hard to lose weight on a vegan diet
I’m sure it used to be easy.
To lose weight by going vegan I mean. Being a vegan even five years ago was worlds apart from what it’s like now. Vegans then practically had to be healthy, since vegan junk food wasn’t really a thing.
Back in the days before Coop Jam doughnuts, Tesco Free From Rocky Road and all the other delicious things.
As I outlined in this post, I’ve recently discovered my favourite brand of vegan butter. It’s delicious, especially spread on fresh, crusty bread. Great.
Except. Up until a month or so, that fresh crusty bread would have been slathered with hummus or peanut butter or similar – basically something with a decent nutritional profile. I’m sure the vegan butter has some good fats in, but so does hummus and peanut butter, but they also have a lot of different vitamins and minerals that a block of what is essentially pure oil can’t provide.
Now, I’m NOT NOT NOT complaining, but as vegan alternatives become better and better, Caroline gets less and less healthy.
I love bread and hummus, but I love bread and butter more. And I feel like I should keep buying it because what if there’s not enough demand and they stop making it?? I want to support vegan entrepreneurs!!
At some point, I’m going to have to do the whole food plant-based shebang, but I need to build my willpower first.
Hmmm, it would be a good idea for a post, though wouldn’t it? Something like, ‘a month as a WFPB vegan).
A few tips on losing weight on a vegan diet
- Stop eating sandwiches at midnight. Carbs are great, but avoid in large quantities after 7
- Make sure your meals are calorie and nutrient dense so that they fill you up. Here’s a post on increasing the nutrients in your diet.
- Limit your peanut butter consumption, especially if you’re eating it straight from the jar. If you just can’t, switch to almond butter. It’s waaaay more expensive, so hopefully the hit to your bank account will make you more careful.
- Freeze your bananas for smoothie; they make them really creamy. Silken tofu does the same, and adds a good whap of protein.
- If you’re a TV snacker, switch to popcorn – it’s a whole grain. Coat with salt, pepper, and nutritional yeast – gotta get those B12s. Grapes are also good – take them off the stalk and put them in a bowl so that they feel more like a proper snack. Sorry for being that wanker that thinks fruit is a decent snack.
- Soups and smoothies are your friend. Hot or cold liquids take longer to consume, and therefore you’re more likely to be full than if you just wolf down a sandwich.
- Add beans to salad. Just a bog standard tin of three bean salad. I use a third of a tin per portion. Beans are rich in…protein, vitamins, and all good things. They’re also low in calories. If you’re just starting out as a vegan don’t eat too many though, or you’ll end up rather bloated. Introduce beans slowly.
If you’re looking to lose weight, but don’t want to have to count calories or anything, a whole food plant-based diet is the absolute one.
If you need inspo High Carb Hannah has a lot of weight loss stuff. It’s definitely not a quick way to lose weight (none of the ones that work are) but it’s fairly intuitive, uncomplicated and, best of all, you can eat a lot.
However, if the thought of unwanted weight loss is putting you off trying a vegan diet, fret not. It’s not at all difficult to eat plenty of calories. I certainly manage.