The idea of veganism at its core is quite simple: avoiding animal-based food products and products that test on animals. That is veganism in a nutshell.
However, veganism can be a lot more to some. Some vegans are activists. Many aren’t. Some vegans preach to others. Others do it for themselves (and the animals of course).
Veganism can be defined differently depending on who you ask but the above definition is the baseline to which veganism exists.
Most people think of veganism as a diet and not a lifestyle comprised of choices and decisions that expand well beyond one’s food preferences.
It’s easy for most people, those outside of the movement, to confuse someone with a plant-based diet for a vegan. And that’s quite understandable. This is especially true as veganism is growing and more and more people are becoming aware of what it means to live a cruelty-free life.
People hear about veganism through social media posts, celebrity gossip, video shares on Facebook, articles circulated by friends and family, among other channels.
And with this boost in awareness comes the people looking to become vegans for reasons beyond animals. Vegan weight loss is one of those reasons.
Just add the search term “vegan weight loss” into Google and see what happens. Millions of articles. Courses. Books. Coaching.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. When someone is made aware of veganism because of the potential to lose weight, there is a good chance they will learn more about what veganism really is.
Veganism certainly isn’t a fad diet designed to shed pounds.
What Are the Benefits of Being Vegan?
There are countless benefits to going vegan that go beyond protecting animal rights.
For most people that make the switch to veganism, the main benefit is avoiding products that contribute to the death and torture of sentient beings.
That is perhaps the most important benefit in the mind of the vegan.
Nowadays, however, there are many more vegans than there were just a few years back. It is growing like never before.
And while this is a great thing, a lot of the new vegans might not be getting into veganism for the right reasons.
However, if they end up making the full transition and sticking to it then there is no reason to complain. But there are many people following a plant-based diet for other reasons than trying to protect animals.
Trends come and go. And it seems the “trendy” version of veganism is skyrocketing. According to Tesco, vegan food was the biggest culinary trend of 2018. There is no sign of that slowing down for 2019.
Because the diet aspect of veganism is a much healthier alternative, it’s getting mainstream press. One of the common side effects of going vegan (or plant-based for that matter) is weight loss. And vegan weight loss is attracting a huge number of new followers.
So why do people typically lose weight when switching to a vegan diet?
What Do You Eat on a Vegan Diet?
At its most basic: anything that doesn’t come from animals. That includes meat, dairy, cheese, eggs, honey, and any other product derived from animals.
But, ethics aside, one of the most interesting aspects of the vegan diet is awareness.
People, for the most part, don’t realize just how many products contain animal products. Once going vegan, you’ll see that your choices at the grocery store and eating out diminish significantly.
And while that might seem like a bad thing it’s actually a blessing in disguise.
A lot of the quick snacks people eat on the run contain animal products. Most new vegans are shocked to find out just how many industrialized items contain eggs or dairy.
This is especially true for the vegans that started as vegetarians.
Vegetarianism is quite different from veganism when it comes to eating out. The options seem endless compared to folks seeking vegan items. Upon the transition away from vegetarianism will typically present a huge challenge for vegans that haven’t studied up about their new selection of options.
Because of this new-found awareness and the extra attention paid to ingredients, vegans tend to eat much healthier diets.
A drastic change in options and a new challenge of seeking vegan options (which tend to be much healthier) become reality.
And with these changes come some unexpected, and usually very welcome, side effects and benefits.
Is Vegan Weight Loss Possible?
Vegan weight loss is a realistic possibility for new vegans, however, it is not a guarantee by any means.
Each vegan is truly unique in their diet and choices.
While all vegans typically have the same baseline as rules and regulations for what they don’t consume, each vegan will have much different habits.
Like any diet, the chances of losing weight increase with the quality of the food that you eat. If you are a vegan but insist on only eating Beyond Burgers and French fries then there is a great chance you will pack on the pounds.
The vegan section at a supermarket is packed with industrialized, highly processed food choices. From Tofurkey and veggie burgers to the famous Beyond Sausage and highly processed tofu “chicken” nuggets, vegan choices are growing by the day.
While this is welcomed with open arms by the vegan community (as it should be), it opens the door to gaining weight.
Just because these items are vegan doesn’t mean they are super healthy. A lot of these products are high in fat an sodium and lack the nutrients a well-balanced meal provides.
Vegan weight loss can be a reality, however for vegans that tend to eat meals consisting of grains, beans, legumes, and vegetables.
A lot of vegans are able to maintain healthy weights because they tend to cook more at home than eating out. A lack of options out of the home, especially for vegans outside of large cities, forces them to be more open to exploring their own cooking skills.
This is a major benefit of veganism as it expands the horizons of vegan eaters and puts them in control of their food choices.
It’s much easier to control what you eat when you are behind the wheel in the kitchen. And it’s much easier to stay healthy by avoiding highly processed, industrialized foods.
As veganism grows in mainstream popularity (at times for the wrong reasons), it’s important to know that not everything you hear is the truth.
And that is especially true when it comes to vegan weight loss.
Vegan Weight Loss Myths and Facts
A lot of new vegans notice a drop in weight.
There are many reasons for this so the answer isn’t so cut and dry.
First off, it’s important to know that everyone is different and metabolism rates vary from person to person.
Beyond that simple fact, what people start eating once they chop animal products from their diet is also different for each person.
One of the main reasons that people lose weight once going vegan is that they stop consuming dairy products.
Dairy products are high in calories and fat. Beyond that, most people consume dairy products at all meals (and many while snacking in between).
This constant barrage of fatty foods loaded with calories is a major reason for obesity (and other health issues) in the Western diet.
But while getting rid of animal products can indeed help you lose weight, there are many factors that can cause the opposite impact.
If people aren’t prepared for a vegan diet, they tend to overcompensate with carbs and other starch-heavy foods. Overloading on carbohydrates will typically make you pack on weight, even if you are cutting out fatty meats and dairy products.
Because of this, the best thing you can do when considering going vegan is to research healthy meal plans. This way you can start your time as a vegan with a balanced diet that provides the nutrients your body needs.
So how can one lose weight once becoming a vegan?
How to Achieve Vegan Weight Loss
Veganism, first and foremost, should be about the animals.
While there are other benefits to veganism, the main one should always be putting animals and their rights first.
The fewer people that consume animal products, the fewer animals are bred to suffer and be killed.
But not all people who switch to veganism are doing it just for the animals. A lot of people do it for the health benefits as well.
Vegan weight loss is one of those benefits that many new vegans achieve, some without changing anything beyond their diet.
One way many vegans lose weight is by being more aware of what they are eating. When you’re always checking the ingredients, you’re more cognizant of what you are consuming.
So beyond avoiding animal products, many vegans realize that many industrialized foods they find in the markets are loaded with non-animal ingredients that are also terrible for your health.
This heightened awareness leads to people making smarter choices and eating less junk food.
Avoid Processed Foods
Beyond that, many processed foods and snacks contain animal products. This includes dairy derivatives and gelatins to eggs and other animal-based products.
Combining the heightened awareness and the decreased consumption of fattening, processed foods, new vegans can typically shed weight quickly.
Another important factor that helps vegans lose weight early on is an increase in the consumption of fiber.
Fiber helps clean out the body and animal products do not contain fiber. Fiber will help you feel full and satisfied throughout the day without you feeling like you need to keep eating.
Choose Fruits, Vegetables, and Nuts for Snacks
When you cut out the junky processed foods, you are left with much healthier options.
If you choose to snack on fruits and nuts throughout the day instead of chips and candy, you will lose weight.
For those new to veganism that are worried about losing their sweet snacks, eating fruit is a great option.
Loaded with natural sugars, fruit can help a newfound vegan fight off cravings for candy and sweets that contain animal products.
Nuts are a great replacement for fatty, oily potato chips. Many chips contain dairy flavoring as well, so avoiding them is a great way to be a healthier snacker.
Get Plenty of Plant-Based Protein
One thing that all vegans are used to is having non-vegans ask them about their protein intake.
There is a common myth that only animal products provide the protein necessary to keep you strong and healthy.
That simply isn’t true. There are many vegan world-class athletes out there easily show you that vegans are able to get enough protein.
There is even a website dedicated to the top vegan athletes from around the world. This site exists to show people “what is possible on the vegan diet.”
You Can’t Only Depend on Diet to Lose Weight
A lot of people look for the easiest way to do things.
And while losing weight as a vegan might seem easy in the beginning as you adjust your diet, making sure to be active is key to keeping the weight off and staying healthy in general.
There are so many fad diets out there that promise major results with little effort.
This kind of marketing and false messaging is dangerous and gives people false expectations. When they fail with one diet they may become jaded and leary of others.
Many people think that by simply adjusting their intake that things will change quickly. While that is an incredibly important factor, that change alongside physical activity will always provide the best results.
Remember That Veganism Is a Lifestyle — Not a Diet
Now let’s be clear.
Veganism is not a magic wand that will make you shed excess weight the moment you cut out animal products.
Being a vegan should be about the animals, first and foremost.
Veganism is a lifestyle. It’s not to be confused with a plant-based diet. A plant-based diet is the consumption part of veganism and nothing more.
It’s Not Just About What You Eat
Vegans don’t just follow a strict diet.
They don’t wear animal products. Vegans don’t use products that are tested on animals. They don’t buy pets (they rescue). Avoiding zoos, circuses, aquariums, and other establishments that exploit animals for entertainment are also avoided by vegans.
It’s easy for people to confuse veganism and a plant-based diet. Outside of the movement where people don’t understand the nuances, the two are essentially interchangeable. Most people don’t realize that veganism goes beyond what someone eats.
But once you make the transition you will see that there are many different kinds of vegans that have their own sets of rules and definitions.
But they will all agree: Veganism is a lifestyle, not a diet.
If losing weight is your main goal, becoming a vegan should only be a part of your plan of action.
Healthy weight loss involves a well-balanced diet, plenty of exercise, and a true understanding of how your actions impact your health.
Remember, veganism is about the animals before anything else.
Understanding the difference between veganism and a plant-based diet is important so you can spread the right kind of awareness.
Vegan weight loss should simply be an added bonus to making a change that goes beyond personal benefits.
Going vegan should be for the animals first. Veganism should be a selfless act.
That’s why veganism isn’t simply a diet. Veganism is a way of life.
Sentient Media editorial team.