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July 27, 2022 7 min read

Gaining weight can be an arduous process. What makes it incredibly challenging is how it hinges on your lifestyle, benefits, diet, and even daily activities.

Vegans especially find it rigorous to gain weight as removing animal products from their diet already has them as a caloric disadvantage. And although a vegan diet provides you with many more food options to choose from, plant foods are almost always lower in calories than animal products.

Despite this, it is possible to gain weight as a vegan. 

Vegan Buddha bowl with chickpeas, courgette, sundried tomatoes and sprouts

Who Is A Vegan?

If you are a vegan, chances are you already know and understand this part, but for those that don't the technical difference between a vegan and vegetarian, a vegan doesn't eat any products sourced from an animal, whereas vegetarians may still eat cheese, eggs, etc.

Some people extend veganism to total self-restraint from not just animal foods but also clothes and other items sourced from animals.

As a vegan, you flush fish, meat, eggs, poultry, chicken, and even seafood out of your meal plans. 

While this is a general description of who a vegan is, there are other philosophies on what to eat and abstain from with regards to animal foods.


  • Semi-vegetarians
  • Pescatarians
  • Ovo-vegetarians
  • Lacto-vegetarians
  • Vegetarians or Lacto-ovo vegetarians
  • Vegans

This might sound like an unnecessary array of diet types for a philosophy that excludes animal products from meals. However, these diet plans differ. 

Semi-vegetarians have a flexible diet plan. They may consume eggs and dairy products and may or may not include fish, meat, poultry, and other seafood in their meals. 

Pescatarians eat eggs, dairy, fish, and seafood but exclude meat and poultry products.

Lacto-vegetarians eat dairy products but stay away from eggs, meat, poultry, fish, and seafood.

They are similar to Ovo-vegetarians who eat eggs but exclude dairy, poultry, meat, fish, and seafood. Vegetarians eat eggs and dairy but exclude meats, fish, poultry, and seafood. Vegans, on the other hand, eat no animal products.

What Do Vegans And Vegetarians Eat?

Vegans and vegetarians eat a plant-based diet that fills their plates with fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, whole-grains, and more. These meals can be highly nutritious and provide all of the necessary macro and micro-nutrients that a person needs  to help you get and keep you healthy

How To Gain Weight As A Vegan Or Vegetarian

So, how do vegans and vegetarians gain weight? By eating in a calorie surplus for given period of time, just like everyone else.

However, one primary reason vegans and vegetarians find it difficult to gain weight is that most plants are low in calories and high in fiber, carbohydrates, and water, so vegans may feel full before over-consuming calories.

With that being said, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to gaining weight on a vegan diet. But the good news is, is that if you like to eat, then you can eat a lot! And given that there are thousands of edible plants on the planet, when compared to the relatively low number of animal foods served on most menus, you'll find that your choices of plant foods is quite expansive compared to the rest.

The trick is to get to know your body and manipulate your diet to suit your needs.

Here are common tips to gain weight:

1. Count Your Calories 

Everyone’s body is unique. The amount of time it takes one person to gain weight on a vegan diet might differ from the time it takes you to do so. This is because our bodies go through different metabolic processes. 

Your metabolism rate is how many calories it takes to sustain yourself in a day.

Your metabolism process is made of two different processes; catabolism and anabolism. Catabolism is what takes place when you digest food, and anabolism is what takes place when your digested food is used to synthesize growth processes in your body.

Having a high metabolism rate means you burn calories faster than people with a slow metabolism rate. This means you need more food and calories to sustain yourself daily than someone with a slower metabolism.

You can fix this by figuring out how many calories you consume within a day and increasing your limit. This can be done by using a calorie tracker to provide you with the approximate number of calories in your meal. 

2. Know Your Body Type 

Knowing your body type is also essential to gaining weight as a vegan. Body type, also known as somatotype, is an idealized belief that bodies can be classified into three groups, and each group directly influences your ability to gain or lose weight.

The three groups of body compositions are: 

  • Endomorphs: Soft and rounded body types.
  • Mesomorphs: Square and muscular body types.
  • Ectomorphs: Thin and fine-bones body types.

It is also believed that people, generally speaking, do not belong to one body type group throughout their lives. If this theory is anything to go by, knowing your present body type is a great way to influence your diet. Essentially, there is no formula to ensure that you gain weight on a vegan diet. Take time to know your body and tailor a plan that works perfectly for you.

3. Increase Your Calorie Intake 

The average person needs to consume 2500 and 2000 calories a day respectively.

This is the recommended amount of calories that you need to sustain your internal body activities- which is also influenced by your external body activities- during the day. However, your specific needs are dependent on many factors including activity levels, stress and much more.

Your body requires approximately 2000-2500 calories to function perfectly without tapping into your body’s energy and fat reserve.

If 2500 calories are necessary for function without a gain or a loss, then increasing your calorie intake to 2500-3000 calories per day would help you store these few extra calories.

When you run on low calories throughout the day, your body quickly exhausts its energy. Since it requires this energy to synthesize and function activities and tissue levels, it taps into your internal fuel reserve through glycogenolysis.

Glycogenolysis is a fancy word that describes your body going into survival mode when you don’t consume food and enough calories for energy. In this process, your body breaks down muscle cells to access the glucose stored inside to conserve energy.

When you are trying to gain weight, glycogenolysis is something you want to steer clear of. You need to do more than consume enough that your body can run on without tapping into its reserve.

To gain weight, you need to consume more than your body needs, so it has extra to store at the end of the day.

4. Reduce Cardio

Exercises are great for your health, but sometimes, you need to sit them out. Cardio should be more limited when you are on a weight gain journey. While it gets your heart rate and blood pressure up, it also burns your calories.

When gaining weight, you need to maximize your calories, and the last thing you want to do is burn any extra calories you might have built during the day. Reduce the amount and intensity of cardio exercises you perform during your weight gain journey.

Variety of nuts butter in jars with ingredients. Homemade raw organic peanut, almond, cashew, macadamia and pistachio nuts paste on black background

Vegan Foods For Weight Gain

As a vegan, your food choices are already limited. However, you need to find vegan foods high in calories to help you reach your goal. More importantly, you will be gaining weight the healthy way.

Some of these foods are:

  • Nuts and their butters: Nuts, for their small size, are profoundly calorie-packed. They are an abundant source of proteins, healthy fats, and essential minerals. This makes them a great candidate for your weight loss journey. Some of the nuts that are incredibly high in calories are macadamias, pecans, cashew, Brazil nuts, almonds, and peanuts. A handful of these nuts can add an impressive amount of calories to your diet for weight gain. Nut Butters are also a viable option.
  • Protein powders: Getting enough protein in a vegan diet can be difficult since a lot of animal products contain the protein that non-vegans get. Pair your meals with VEG-PRO Protein Powder crammed full of protein, vitamins, minerals, and essential nutrients.
  • Avocados: Avocados are not only a delicious addition to meals but are also packed full of healthy calories. One hundred grams of this creamy butter-like fruit contains about 160 calories. A medium-sized avocado contains 250 calories and 23 grams of fat. This is an impressive calorie content that would give you a boost on your weight gain journey. Avocados also contain essential macro and micronutrients. From stuffed avocado to vegan avocado sandwiches and pasta recipes, avocados have a place on your diet plan.
  • Quinoa: Quinoa is rich in dietary fibers, vitamins, minerals, and proteins. One hundred grams of Quinoa contains around 368 calories and 64 grams of carbohydrates. It is completely-plant based and provides your body with essential amino acids, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, copper and folate.
  • Legumes: Chickpeas, beans, black beans, soybeans, brown lentils, red lentils, and navy beans are all legumes that contain a high amount of fiber and calories. Legumes are also excellent plant protein sources, providing your body with the necessary amino acids for synthesizing new tissue. They are also packed full of vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients that are beneficial to your body. For example, per 100 grams of soybeans, you are provided with 347 calories. Legumes are also notably delicious and versatile enough to belong in many of your meal options.
  • Rice: Rice is versatile, makes delicious dishes, and is packed with calories and fibers. It comes in all types too: brown rice, long-grain rice, short-grain rice, basmati, black rice, white rice, red rice, paella rice, risotto rice, and lots of others. One hundred grams of brown rice contains approximately 111 calories, 100 grams of white rice contains 130 calories, and 100 grams of basmati rice contains 139 calories. This is enough motivation to get your rice dishes cooking.
  • Oils: Coconut and olive oil contain a high amount of calories. These oils also provide healthy fat and essential micronutrients for healthy weight gain. More importantly, they go well as cooking agents in your dishes, smoothies, sauces, and dressing. One tablespoon of coconut oil contains 117 calories, while one tablespoon of olive oil contains 119 calories.


Gaining Weight As A Vegan (Or Vegetarian)

There are other foods like sweet potatoes, dried fruits, tofu, smoothies, tahini, and peanut butter that also provide calories, and there are also vegan supplements you can include in your meal plan to help you maximize your diet.

Pack your meal plans full with these vegan foods filled with calories, and you are on your way to gaining healthy weight. Calorie counting apps are a superb way of keeping track of the number of calories you consume daily.

Gaining weight on a vegan or vegetarian diet might seem inconceivable, but with the proper eating habits, it is far from impossible. All you need to do is find how your body works and tailor a diet plan with nutritious and caloric foods.

Check out free and fun vegan meal recipes like our vegan-gluten-free gooey peanut butter oatmeal recipes to help you with your healthy weight gain journey.