Wednesday, June 20, 2007

If you’re vegan, you can’t be overweight … right?

I read something the other day online that declared, to paraphrase, “It’s impossible to be overweight if you’re vegan!”

Now, I’m as keen as anyone to get someone to go vegan if they can, but I had to laugh at that. As much as I would like to woo someone with this phrase, it’s not quite true. Plain and simple, you absolutely can make poor (vegan) food choices that will render you overweight. And yes, you still have to exercise even if you chow down on beans and rice instead of steak.

It’s true that it’s probably a little harder to be overweight if you’re vegan; after all, if you eat even a moderately healthy diet, you’re getting a lot more fruits, veggies, and fiber, and a lot less fat, than someone who eats a meat-centered one with few fruits and veggies. One of the reasons it’s easier to gain weight in general with the typical meat-based diet is because meat has no fiber at all, so this makes it much more calorie dense than a veggie-based one. The fiber in the veggie-based one also forgives a few calories, since some of them pass on through undigested. Serving for serving, veggie-based meals also just have fewer calories in general than meat-based ones, so you can load your plate up and eat to fullness without worrying that what you’re eating is going to end up on your behind in quite the same way.

Even if you’re vegan, though, you still have to pay attention to what you’re putting in your mouth. If your favorite forms of subsistence are soy ice cream, peanut butter, and grilled (soy) cheese sandwiches but you skimp on the fruits, veggies, legumes and beans, you’re eating a relatively nutrient poor, very calorie dense diet.

To make eating as effortless as possible (meaning that you eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full, and ignore food the rest of the time), limit sweet treats like soy ice cream and high-sugar refined flour baked goods to occasional treats. Stock the fridge and cupboards with whole grains, fruits and veggies. And unfortunately, vegans also have to exercise just like anyone, so shoot for that 30 minutes a day experts recommend.

Just a note that as healthy as I like to eat, I have a definite sweet tooth. I’ve developed some very easy, healthy low sugar “treats” that are still truly good for you, like oatmeal cookies and pumpkin pie, so I rarely am even tempted by junk food anymore. If you’re interested, stop by, which is the website I have. Lots of good, very easy recipes there for the “kitchen-challenged” among us. :-)


  1. Well I certainly smash the skinny vegan stereotype.
    But dammit vegan food can be Yummy!