Compared to meat eaters, vegans have much lower BMIs, weight nearly 9 pounds less on average, and have much lower rates of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Considering how obese and unhealthy the western world has become, it isn’t surprising that many people are going vegan for weight loss. As a result, there is no shortage of vegan diet plans for weight loss available. Before you commit to any vegan weight loss plan, read this advice and recommendations first.
Word of Caution about Vegan Weight Loss Diet Plans
Vegan weight loss plans give step-by-step instructions on what to eat in order to lose weight on the vegan diet. Some people do best on this sort of strict, rigid plans. However, there are a lot of potential pitfalls to keep in mind before you start following a prescribed vegan diet plan.
1. Most diet plans are not tailored to seasonal or local availability.
What are you going to do when the supermarket is out of the broccoli which you needed for your meal plan casserole?
2. Some vegan diet plans are outright unhealthy.
When searching for weight loss plans, I was shocked to see that the brand Amy’s gives out free vegan weight loss meal plans. Under the plan, you are expected to eat 2 Amy’s products per day. While Amy’s might be the lesser evil of vegan processed food, it is still processed food. Studies show that processing affects the nutrient content of food — which means you could end up lacking in vital nutrients needed to stay healthy on the vegan diet. And let’s not forget about all that sodium, preservatives, and other junk in processed food…
3. They don’t factor in personal tastes and lifestyle.
The popular Skinny Bitch vegan weight loss plan might work for many women, but many others will feel ravenous by noon if they just eat the prescribed fruit for breakfast. You need to find a vegan diet plan which actually fits your unique tastes and lifestyle (though note that you will need to change your lifestyle if you want to lose weight!)
4. Following vegan diet plans is expensive.
This is in part because of the seasonal and local availability issues mentioned above, as well as the fact that you are expected to pay monthly membership fees for many vegan diet plans. If you are worried that going vegan is too expensive, here is some advice on how to save money on the vegan diet.
So Why Use a Vegan Diet Plan for Weight Loss?
Despite all of these downsides, vegan diet plans can be great resources for people who are just transitioning to the vegan diet and are feeling overwhelmed or confused about what to eat. Just be warned, following a vegan diet plan to the T is going to feel a bit restrictive and it is probably going to be expensive.
Remember, you don’t have to follow a vegan diet plan exactly. Instead, you can use them as inspiration and make changes based on your preferences, lifestyle, and budget. Don’t have broccoli available? Well, just use cauliflower instead. Don’t want to eat just fruit for breakfast? Then add some oats and nuts.
Best Vegan Diet Plans
If you do want to follow a vegan weight loss diet plan (or are just seeking inspiration), here are some of the best options:
This diet plan focuses on tasty and quick recipes that provides hormonal optimisation for weight loss. While the cookbook is not specifically designed for vegans, it comes with a bonus vegan swap guide so you can find the perfect vegan alternative for all the recipes. The cookbook includes 30 recipes, a “done-for-you” 30 days meal plan and an itemized grocery list to make your life easier. You can get the standalone cookbook or become a member and receive monthly meal plans and grocery lists.
Under this diet plan, you are expected to eat mostly fruit for breakfast, salads for lunch, and a heavier meal for dinner, like a tofu stir-fry. The vegan diet plan is very popular and has gotten almost cult-like status. The only issue with plan is that it doesn’t give much recommendations for eating out, though there are some recommendations for packaged food in case you can’t cook.
Creator Joel Furhman, MD, calls this a “Nutritarian diet” because it helps you lose weight by focusing on nutrient-dense foods. The vegan diet plan is 6-weeks long and aims to help you lose 20lbs. You can eat as much fruit, veggies, beans and legumes on the diet as you want. You may eat limited amounts of nuts, seeds, carbs, and fats.
This plan is designed for permanent, sustainable weight loss. You can expect to lose about 1-3 pounds per week by making small changes to your diet that improve your health and trim your waistline. This is a good option for people who fail at typical diets because the focus is on learning to love nutritious vegan foods.
Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Diet is much more than a weight loss plan. It is about motivating women to make healthy choices so they can live better lives. Be warned that this plan is intense! It involves a cleanse and you will be expected to eat lots of raw foods, vegetable juices, and superfood smoothies. But Kris is really good at getting you excited for the change. You will need a good blender and a juicer.
This vegan diet plan is especially designed for black women who want to lose weight. The book is mostly motivational but it does have chapters with sample vegan menus, shopping advice, and tips for transitioning to veganism, along with about 40 recipes.
How to Make Your Own Vegan Meal Plans
Trying to make sense of what vegans eat can be overwhelming, and then you’ve got to learn how to cook it. What, I am supposed to drain tofu first? Why are my beans taking so long to cook? How do I steam greens so they don’t turn into mush?
My biggest piece of advice for newbie vegans (or for anyone who wants to change their diet to lose weight) is this:
Try one or two new vegan recipes per week.
Choose a specific day for your vegan cooking experimentation. Ideally, you get the family involved in the event. For example, you can give your kids a vegan cookbook to flip through and have them pick out a recipe they want to try. Or, make it social by having a vegan potluck or inviting friends over. Just be warned: some of the recipes will probably be disasters at first. Keep with it! You will get the hang of it.
This approach is great because you will gradually build up a repertoire of go-to recipes. You will also gradually learn to use new food products you’d never tried before. Since some recipes call for unusual ingredients like agar agar or vital wheat gluten flour, you will gradually stock your pantry with these items – meaning you don’t have to go out and spend a whole bunch of money on specialty products when you first go on the vegan diet.
What are you supposed to eat on days when you aren’t trying new recipes? You can use mock meats and soy cheese to stand in for animal products in your standard recipes. Like using Beyond Meat’s Beef-Free Crumbles in tacos topped with Daiya vegan cheese. These vegan products are healthier than their non-vegan counterparts (less fat, calories and cholesterol), but they still are processed foods. Vegan processed foods are terrible for your health and weight loss. So, your goal should be to eventually stop relying on vegan processed foods and learn recipes which use real foods instead.
Making Sure Your Vegan Diet Plan is Nutritionally Complete
The vegan diet for weight loss gets criticized a lot because of potential nutrient pitfalls, such as being lacking in calcium, iron, or zinc. You’ll notice that I didn’t mention protein here, because it is actually ridiculously easy to get protein on a vegan diet (see how vegans get protein in pictures here). Yes, it is true that you will have to pay attention to certain nutrients on the vegan diet, and all vegans must take a B12 supplement as there is no vegan source of vitamin B12. But, aside from the B12 issue, there is no reason that you should be lacking any nutrients on a vegan diet.
Here is how you can make sure your vegan meal has all of the nutrients you need.
In each meal, be sure to include:
- One protein (for maintaining and building muscle, which is important for metabolism)
- One carb (for energy)
- 1-2 vegetables (for vitamins, minerals, and fiber)
- 1 fruit/colorful vegetable (for vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants)
- 1 fat (yes, your body needs fat for nutrients like Omega 3 and DHA!)
- 1 green (very important for weight loss and getting enough iron and calcium on the vegan diet)
*A note about protein. It should be included in every meal not because the vegan diet is lacking protein, but because protein helps you feel full for longer, something which will help you control your appetite and lose weight.
This vegan shopping list can help you build a healthy vegan meal for weight loss. Just make sure you always have on hand 2 ingredients from each category, as well as all of the staples. Then you will always be able to throw together a healthy vegan meal.
Where to Find Vegan Meal Plan Recipes
When most people think of the vegan diet, or what vegans eat, they think of their current diet only without the meat. Looked at this way, yes, the vegan diet does seem pretty boring (think a “burger” with just the trimmings). In reality, vegans eat a wide variety of food which can hardly be considered boring. I personally believe that one of the best benefits of going vegan is that, since you can’t just rely on standard fast food, takeout, or frozen dinners, you are forced to be creative. Since going vegan, I’ve tried a lot of foods I probably would have never tried otherwise – and learned that I love healthy foods like seaweed, red lentils, okra, and stuffed grape leaves.
To make sure you are doing the vegan diet for weight loss right and not just relying on vegan processed foods to stand in for meat and dairy, you will need to have a repertoire of vegan recipes to fall back on.
Here are some great websites for vegan recipes:
I personally prefer flipping through a cookbook than browsing online. You might want to check out these best vegan cookbooks.
Not sure what to cook?
Use Google Image Search! Just look in your fridge and cupboards to see what ingredients you have. Then type these into Google Image Search along with the words “vegan recipe”. For example, when I type in “Tofu tomato peas rice vegan recipe” into Google Image Search, I get these results shown below. Then I can simple click on the picture which looks most appetizing and make it for dinner.
If you followed the vegan shopping list and have two ingredients from each category on stock, you will always be able to throw together a healthy recipe using this approach. With experience, you will even learn which ingredients you can substitute, like using black beans instead of seitan in that couscous recipe or turnips instead of celery root in that soup recipe.