How to Lose Weight with a Vegan Diet (with Pictures)

Losing Weight On a Vegan Diet
Getting the Proper Nutrients
Questions & Answers
Related Articles

This article was co-authored by

Patricia Somers, RD

. Patricia Somers is a Registered Dietitian in Arkansas. She received her RD from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in 1979.

There are 20 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

A vegan diet utilizes only plant sources for food and nutrients, and excludes all animal products. Vegans do not eat meat, fish, eggs, honey, or dairy products.[1][2] Vegans tend to be healthier, thinner, have lower cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and have decreased risks of heart disease, diabetes, and some types of cancer.[3][4] If you are interested in trying to lose weight on a vegan diet, make sure you understand what the diet entails, how to make sure you get all the nutrients you need, and you avoid .

Method 1

Losing Weight On a Vegan Diet

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    Cut calories.

    Losing weight means reducing your calorie intake. Calculate how many calories you eat each day by tracking everything you eat and drink. Then reduce your daily intake by 500 calories. This, along with physical activity, should result in a 1 to 2 lb. weight loss per week, which is considered healthy.

    • It may be helpful to speak with a Registered Dietitian, as you will need to make sure that reducing your calories doesn’t also result in nutritional deficiencies.
    • Focus on nutrient-dense, low-calorie foods and keep portions in mind.

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    Eat enough fiber.

    The recommended fiber intake for women is 25 g/day, and 38 g/day for men. This amount of fiber is recommended to keep your digestive system active and moving. It also helps keep you feeling full.

    • Sources of fiber include whole grains, beans, lentils, vegetables and fruits, especially those with rinds like plums, prunes, apricots, apples and nectarines.
    • This amount of fiber will likely increase the frequency of bowel movements and soften your stool. It also ensures that waste products and toxins don’t stay in your body for very long.
    • The average daily intake for Americans is 15 g/day, which is far below the recommended level.

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    Avoid sugar.

    If you are trying to lose weight on a vegan diet, try to limit sugar as much as possible. Cut out processed, sugar-heavy desserts and foods. This may also mean that you limit cane sugar and fruit juice. It doesn’t, however, mean that you have to avoid fruits. Avoid fruit juice because the juice tends to concentrate the sugars.


    • Don’t think that just because a food is labeled “vegan” it is automatically healthy. Vegan cupcakes, cookies, muffins, cakes, and pies can have just as much fat, sugar, artificial ingredients, and calories as non-vegan desserts.[6] Oreo cookies, for instance, are vegan, but they’re certainly not part of a healthy diet.

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    Eat healthy fats.

    Many diets emphasize low fat, but eating healthy fats can help you lose weight. Foods, such as nuts, contain the healthy fats. You want to make sure to get the healthy omega-3 fats, and nuts are a great source of these fats.


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    Drink water.

    Keep drinking as much water as you can. This helps flush out your system. It is also important in a vegan diet because it helps allow the fiber to do its job. Try for at least eight to 10 eight ounce glasses of water a day.


    • Another advantage of water is that it keeps you feeling fuller and less hungry.

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    The best way to lose weight in a healthy way is to decrease calories and to increase calorie burn by increasing your physical activity. Any kind of aerobic activity will increase weight loss at the same time you are gaining the cardiovascular benefits, along with the benefits for mood, your nervous system, your immune system, your joints, and your muscles. Aim for 150 minutes of aerobic exercise each week.

    • Start by walking more and climbing stairs more often. Take up running, cycling, or swimming. Join a gym and start taking classes. Try running, walking, jogging, dance, tennis, stationary bicycle, or the elliptical machine.
    • Incorporate strength-training two to three days a week. You don’t have to become a body-builder, but using your muscles in strength training burns calories and keeps you strong (muscle burns more calories than fat). Find a gym where you can get professional advice from a personal trainer.

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    Look for recipes online.

    Do your homework about a healthy vegan diet and get some healthy recipes. If you are this far, you have the basic guidelines, but you will need to learn new cooking skills and how to build a healthy vegan meal. Experiment with cooking and try new, fun vegan recipes each day.


    • To find vegan recipes, you can buy cookbooks full of healthy, delicious recipes. You can also search the internet for many recipes.

Method 2

Getting the Proper Nutrients

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    Ensure you get the proper nutrients


    A vegan diet can be a very healthy alternative and allow you to lose weight in a very healthy way; however, you have to spend some time ensuring adequate intake of the specific nutrients, particularly iron, zinc, Vitamin B12, omega-3 essential fats, and Vitamin D. These are critically important for your health.


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    Visit a Registered Dietitian. Make an appointment with a dietitian who can help you ensure you are getting adequate nutrition. They can help you write up a meal plan that provides all the essential nutrients and answer any questions you might have about being vegan. They can help you set weight loss goals and make sure you stay healthy while you drop pounds.

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    Get regular blood tests.

    Have your blood regularly tested for deficiencies, especially if you are new to a vegan diet. Tell your physician about your food choices and your concerns. Conditions caused by nutritional deficiencies can be identified and rectified.


    • Treating these deficiencies may require changing some of your dietary choices. This doesn’t mean you need to give up your vegan lifestyle, but you may need to increase your intake of certain foods or consider supplements. Your physician or dietitian can help you with this.

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    Track your nutrition.

    Keep track of your food and use a nutrient calculator to make sure you are getting all the nutrients you need. This helps you monitor your vitamin, mineral, and nutrient levels to make sure you are getting everything you need every day.


    • You can use nutrient trackers like FitDay and Chronometer and check out nutrition data.

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    Eat nuts and seeds.

    Fish are not the only source of omega-3 fats. There are vegan sources, like nuts and seeds. These nuts and seeds can be raw.

    • Try flax seeds (golden or dark brown)[13], chia seeds, or hemp seeds.[14]
    • Walnuts, pecans, almonds, peanuts, and virtually all nuts are healthy sources of omega-3 fats.

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    Incorporate leafy green vegetables.

    Leafy green vegetables should be a staple of your diet. They include a wide array of nutrients that your body needs. One important nutrient that leafy green vegetables have is omega-3 fats.


    They also contain calcium and iron.


    You can cook your greens, eat them raw, or even put them in a smoothie. Great examples of leafy green vegetables include:

    • Greens of beets, radishes, mustard, collard, Swiss chard, turnips
    • Spinach, kale, Chinese cabbage (bok choy), cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, arugula, field greens, purslane, romaine lettuce

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    Substitute tofu for meat.

    Tofu has a lot of protein, zinc, iron, calcium, vitamin D, and omega-3s. You can substitute tofu for meat in just about any dish. Try it in stir fries, pastas, and even on sandwiches.


    • Firm tofu works great for recipes since it holds its shape.

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    Eat beans and lentils.

    Beans are important for a vegan diet because it provides a large amount of protein, which is important to maintain when going vegan. Beans also are rich in fiber, among other important nutrients. Legumes are similar to beans. They contain a lot of fiber and B vitamins.


    • You can eat beans and lentils in soups, casseroles, as side dishes. There are endless possibilities.
    • Good examples include mung beans, navy beans, kidney beans, soybeans, black beans, and lentils.

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    Add in squash.

    Winter and summer squashes are wonderful foods to add to your diet. Winter squashes are a great source of omega-3s, among other nutrients.


    Summer squashes, like yellow squash and zucchini, provide nutrients and are versatile components of your diet.

    • Winter squashes include acorn, butternut, spaghetti squash, and pumpkin.

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    Take supplements.

    If you need to, make sure you take vegan-safe supplements. If you eat a varied diet full of fruits and vegetables, you should get all the proper nutrients you need. But supplements can help, particularly to get enough zinc, iron, selenium, and calcium.


Community Q&A

Add New Question

  • Question

    How can I lose 20 pounds in two weeks on a vegan diet?

    Patricia Somers is a Registered Dietitian in Arkansas. She received her RD from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in 1979.

    Registered Dietitian

    Expert Answer

    That would be an extreme amount of weight to lose in such a short time. Set a reasonable goal, usually 1 – 2 lb/week, for long-term weight loss.

  • Question

    Should I avoid carbs?


    Community Answer

    Yes, you should avoid larger amounts of carbs. Smaller amounts of natural sugar are healthy and are fine, as your body does need some sugar.

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  1. ↑ Craig, WJ. Health effects of vegan diets. AmerJClinNut 89(5), 1627S-1633S ,2009.
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  3. ↑ Mills, PK., et al Cohort study of diet, lifestyle, and prostate cancer in adventist men. Cancer, 64(3) 598-604, 1989.
  4. ↑ Craig, WJ. Health effects of vegan diets. AmerJClinNut 89(5), 1627S-1633S, 2009.
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Article Info

This article was co-authored by Patricia Somers, RD. Patricia Somers is a Registered Dietitian in Arkansas. She received her RD from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in 1979.

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