How to Gain Weight As a Vegan

How to Gain Weight As a Vegan


Lorraine Pinnix
March 6, 2022

If you’re someone who’s always struggled to gain weight, being a vegan can only add fuel to the fire.

While most people would love to have the problem of needing to gain weight rather than lose it, it can be frustrating and worrying for your health when it’s happening to you.

How can you gain weight as a vegan? People following a plant-based diet can try to incorporate foods like avocado, olive oil, dried fruit, and nuts and nut butter to up their caloric intake each day.

Ensuring you get a good combination of protein and carbohydrates will also help you gain weight at a steady pace.

Most vegans follow a healthy, balanced diet with loads of fresh and whole foods, which means they don’t always eat as many calories as someone on a regular diet.

If you’re struggling to meet your daily caloric needs, there are some ways you can do so while still staying healthy and sticking to your plant-based lifestyle.

Why Should You Gain Weight?

Why Should You Gain Weight?

Some people have always struggled with being underweight or wanting to put on a few extra pounds, and that was before they went vegan.

Going vegan can make it even more challenging though, as you’re saying goodbye to calorie-rich foods like hamburgers, milkshakes, and deep-fried chicken that might usually make you gain more.

Although most people focus on losing weight when talking about weight management, some of us suffer without putting enough on.

Whether your doctor has mentioned something to you or you’ve noticed yourself that your clothes aren’t fitting or the scales have come down, you might want to add a few pounds.

To determine whether you’re at a healthy weight, using a BMI calculator can help. These look at your height and weight to see if it’s within the healthy range and can give you an idea of whether you need to gain more.

However, these calculators should only be used as a guide as they don’t always take into account different body shapes and muscle mass.

Gaining Weight As a Vegan

Gaining Weight As a Vegan

When people make the transition to a vegan diet, they either surprise themselves by losing weight or gaining it. Although plant-based diets give you a chance to increase your intake of whole foods, sometimes it’s not enough to eat the same number of calories you used to.

Likewise, some vegans find that they’re eating too much without realizing how high in calories some plant-based foods can be.

A common misconception about going vegan is that they’re unable to put on weight or build muscle, but many of the popular plant-based athletes who’ve praised this way of eating have shown us recently that’s not always true.

Depending on your goals, it’s possible to gain weight, lose weight, build muscle, or meet just about any physical condition you wish to, as long as you plan your meals and know which foods to eat.

To gain weight, the easiest approach is consuming more energy than you put out. This can be achieved by tracking how many calories you burn as your BMR (basal metabolic rate) plus any physical activity you do.

You’ll then need to ensure you’re eating more than this amount so that you’re not simply burning off all of the energy you consume.

How to Increase Calorie Intake the Healthy Way

How to Increase Calorie Intake the Healthy Way

While it’s easy enough to chow down on a packet of cookies every day to try and boost your calorie intake, it’s certainly not healthy. This type of weight gain will lead to other issues like blood sugar issues, excess weight gain, and heart disease, so it’s not advisable.

After establishing your meal plan, you might notice days or meals where the calories are lacking. Adding a serving of some of the popular calorie-rich vegan foods can help you boost your intake without relying on foods that are high sugar and processed, without causing you to feel as if you’re eating too much.

With this type of eating, be prepared to experiment with different foods, flavors, and serving sizes, as it can take time to find things that you enjoy eating. Eventually, you’ll know how much and what you can add to your meals to give them a calorie boost and it’ll become second nature.

The Best High-Calorie Vegan Foods

Rather than stuffing your face with Oreos and hot chips, you should be swapping or adding some of these healthy, high-calorie vegan foods.

A single serving of many of these will be enough each day to gradually gain weight, depending on what your meal plan looks like.

Olive oil

Olive oil

Olive oil has loads of health benefits and it’s a great source of monounsaturated fats and antioxidants. Adding a single tablespoon to your cooking or salad dressing will give you close to 120 calories, and it’s versatile enough to use with just about anything you make.


We all know that avocado is one of the best sources of healthy fats, and these are the types of foods you should be looking at to get your calories up.

It’s easy enough as mashing up some fresh guacamole, spreading it on your toast, or dicing it up to add to whatever salad you’re eating that day. With over 300 calories in a single avocado, it’s not hard to gain weight by eating more of them.

Nuts and nut butter

As one of the most versatile food groups, nuts, and nut butter can also help you gain weight. They’re chock full of good fats and protein, so don’t be afraid to lather your toast with some nut butter or toss a few handfuls of nuts into whatever it is you’re eating.



Most vegans would have tried tahini before, the famous plant-based dressing made of sesame seeds. However, you may not realize just how calorie-dense it can be.

A tablespoon serving has almost 90 calories in it, so don’t be afraid to load up your dressings and sandwich spreads with as much tahini as you can muster.


Smoothies manage to be both delicious and filling and depending on what you add to it, it’s an easy way to get a few hundred extra calories in a single serving.

Vegans can make amazing liquid treats with ingredients like plant milk, peanut butter, chia seeds, non-dairy ice cream, frozen fruit, and dried fruit.


All vegans should be accustomed to eating legumes as a replacement for meat, but you might not realize just how calorie-dense they can be.

A cup serving of black beans holds 227 calories and 15 grams of protein, so adding an extra cup to your meal can be a healthy boost of both.

Otherwise, you can add legumes to soups, burgers, salads, and anything else you eat and will find that they fit right in.

Can You Exercise and Gain Weight?

Can You Exercise and Gain Weight?

A common myth that people hear about exercise is that it’ll make you lose weight if you do it regularly, without taking into account the type of exercise or the calorie deficit you create.

While physical activity burns calories, as long as you’re eating more than you’re burning, you won’t lose any weight.

The type of exercise also matters, with cardio burning more calories than strength-based exercises.

Those looking to build muscle will find they may have to work a little harder to get enough protein in their diet compared to a meat-eater, but it’s still doable.

If you don’t have a specific workout goal, like building muscle or running faster, exercise should be looked at as something fun and invigorating that’s good for you too.

Making a plan to move every day for at least 30 minutes is a great place to start and will help you live a healthier life overall.

Important Tips and Habits For a Healthy Weight

Maintaining a healthy weight can be hard to do, vegan or not, and there are a lot of lifestyle changes you have to learn. Here are a few tips that can help you gain weight the healthy way while following a plant-based diet.

Consult a professional

Consult a professional

There are some great experts available to help you with weight management, and it makes it easier than going it alone.

Whether it’s your regular doctor, a dietitian, or a nutritionist, you can get some ideas about what a healthy goal weight is and the simple changes you can make that will help you reach it.

Create a weight gain plan

Think short and long-term about your weight gain goals and come up with a schedule to help you meet them. Calculate how many calories you need a day to gain weight based on your body size and activity level, and then make a meal plan for each day to ensure you meet.

Compile a list of some vegan foods that are higher in calories that you can add to your meals and snacks to help meet your goals.

Drink enough water

Drink enough water

Although science suggests drinking enough water is a good way to lose weight, it is also imperative when you’re trying to gain weight.

Most adults need at least eight glasses of water a day, and sometimes more, so make this a priority just as much as reaching your calorie goal is.

Be patient

Weight gain, like weight loss, takes time if you do it healthily. You’re not going to reach your goal weight in just a couple of weeks, and if you do, there’s a good chance it’s not going to be sustainable.

There’ll be good and bad days as you adapt to a new way of eating, so be patient with yourself.

Use a calorie tracker

Some people find it easier to manage their meal plan if they’re tracking their calorie intake closely, as they often misjudge how many they’re eating in a day.

There are lots of free apps available with databases that hold millions of foods, so you can put in your planned foods for the day and check that you’re eating enough to gain weight.

Creating a Healthy Vegan Body

Managing your weight can take a little more work on a plant-based diet, especially if you’re someone who’s always struggled with being underweight, but it’s worth putting in the effort for your health.

With a few smart changes and more mindfulness on what you’re eating each day, you’ll hopefully reach a healthy weight that’s easy to maintain.

Related Questions

Veganism is about more than just reducing your impact on the planet, it’s about ensuring you do the best for your body as well.

To learn some more about being a healthier vegan, we’ve answered some FAQs that can give you a push in the right direction.

What Is the Difference Between Vegan and Vegan Friendly?

Vegan products that carry the Vegan Trademark are those that have been registered and certified by the Vegan Society.

Vegan friendly is a label used by manufacturers to indicate that the products are made to meet vegan standards, but they do not have registration with the Vegan Society as of yet.

How Many Calories Should a Vegan Eat Each Day?

How Many Calories Should a Vegan Eat Each Day?

We all have different requirements for how many calories we should eat each day, and this is calculated by things like our energy output and body weight.

Vegans do not need to eat any more calories than non-vegan when you compare two people of the same energy output and size.

Why Am I Gaining Weight on a Vegan Diet?

Some people wrongly assume that simply cutting out animal products from their diet will make them lose weight, but you need to look at your energy input and output to determine weight loss.

Make a note of the foods you’re eating each day and how many calories you’re consuming and burning off to get a better idea of why you’re gaining weight.


Lorraine Pinnix

Lorraine Pinnix is a passionate nutritionist and loves seeing people living healthy, and fulfilled lives. She believes that food is an essential piece of staying fit and strongly believes in going vegan. PureGrowthOrganic is a passionate work that details her research in helping you go on complete organic diets. She is available for questions, comments, and follow-ups.