The Pressure of Being An Overweight Vegan

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  1. Jimmy Ratcliff says:

    74 year old, not vegan. Until the industrial age, being vegan was impossible in most of the world. My son is vegan and he understands that, he worries for animals also. He looks great at 31 years old.

    God did not expect we would not eat animals, except the bottom feeding pigs. If you can eat vegan fine, just try making me feel guilty because I am not.

  2. PeeBy Fan says:

    Ha! I do! I eat exclusively smooooooth peanut butter. Cannot stand the crunchy version. Put the natural smooooooth peanut butter (in its jar) upside down in the fridge. The oil works through and mixes with the PB at the top of the jar. Found your site while searching for vegan diet for weight loss information. Shock horror, someone is dissing on my preferred PB
    (- ‿◦ ) (Joking of course) Very interesting article all the same. I am just turning toward plant based after a life time of a ‘SAD’ diet. Perfect acronym for a diet of unnecessary killing and ill health. Weight has been an issue for a most of my life as has surviving own history of abuse and poverty. Getting it all together step by step. So thank you for being one more little bit of help I needed.

  3. I started down the road to vegetarianism 20 years ago. We were raised on a diet of heavily processed diet and all throughout my adolescence I ate too many calories. After graduation I took horrible eating to new levels and got to a point where I was really killing myself with food. At my max I weighed in at 266 lbs and a size 44 waist. And I couldn’t do a pushup to save my life and ran out of breath after one flight of stairs. So I started looking at my diet and over time slowly gave up more and more animal products. Eventually went vegetarian and then vegan. Ate completely whole food and mostly low fat. And started exercising. Eventually lost 100lbs and was in perfect health. As time went by I made exceptions by including processed foods. Always stayed true to the vegan diet though. Kept the weight off naturally for many years. And I always stayed relatively active. But eventually I started drinking alot and developed some gall bladder issues. Then I really started to struggle with my digestive system and at the same time made the mistake of going from a job that required lots of physical activity to a cushy desk job. Then 6 years ago I had a really bad knee injury. I mean my knee was destroyed. And now I’m still stuck behind a desk at work. So I gained all that weight back, and then some. I weigh in at 285 lbs and size 46 waist. Bigger than I was 20 years ago. Whatever digestive issues I was fighting just made me balloon and the inactivity had only added fuel to the fire. But after several waisted doctor visits and out of pocket expenses most of my digestive issues have went away on their own. I’ve discovered I can’t eat foods like onions anymore. Had testing that showed my pancreas lacks the enzymes to break down some foods and have any issue with bile acid absorption. But if I started pushing myself to work out again I know I would lose weight. Exercise is a really important part of the fitness equation but here’s the kicker… even as an obese vegan, I’m still healthy in a lot of ways. I look more fit than I did when I was overweight in my early twenties. I have more muscle now. My blood pressure is always low, yesterday it was 116/70. My cholesterol is always on par. And my annual checkups all the labs and tests come back normal. I’m somewhat active but even at a minimum activity kind day I’ll walk my dog for about 3 hours. So weight gain really can happen for different reasons. I think eating whole food and exercising are the best ways to lose weight but staying vegan has been beneficial to me. When I put my mind to exercising and eating right again it will be way easier to lose weight this time around, even though I’m in my 40s. So yeah, being a fat ass vegan has it’s downfalls but like you, I’m still happy to not contribute to that insane torture and inhumanity anymore.

  4. Thank you for sharing your story. My story has a very different start but yet I still find myself in the same position, an overweight vegan. I am currently in early menopause and I have gained significant weight since I turned 40. I became a vegan for the animals, the environment and my health. I had started to have high blood pressure, dizziness and indicators for type 2 diabetes and veganism was my answer. Since I have made the change, my blood pressure has gone back to normal, I was able to get off anti-depressants and my blood sugar levels have evened out. Despite all those great things, my weight has not improved. I am hoping that if I can reset my metabolism some how, maybe I will lose some weight. Regardless, I have never felt more inner peace in all my life. Good luck to you and thank you again for sharing your story and letting me know I am not the only one out there with this struggle.

  5. Thank you so much for sharing, Michael! I am saddened to see some of the comments below but please know this: you are doing the best that you can; are saving animals, and you do look great. Nobody should judge you, period. As long as you are making healthy choices for yourself and have the “vegan junk” in moderation, you are fine! Thanks so much for your vulnerability. We support you! 🙂

  6. The irony is that if you went carnivore, you’d lose that weight in around 4 months.

    Humans are omnivores. We are not herbivores.
    The vegan diet is a luxury of the modern era. It wasn’t even possible mid to long term before 1950, when B12 supplementation became possible.
    Most vegans are just doing it so they can feel superior to other people anyway. It’s a way of patting yourselves on the back. It’s a shame that you may be putting your health at risk to do that. There is no evidence that a vegan diet is any healthier than an omnivore diet once you remove junk food from the equation. No people were ever vegan in antiquity. You are quite literally gambling with your health. Good luck, though.

    1. Why you would feel the need to come on a vegan blog and say this to someone who has become vegan for ethical reasons is beyond me. Your argument that “a vegan diet is a luxury of the modern era” is absolute nonsense. Do you not have a cell phone, a car, an indoor bathroom, a computer with a high-speed internet connection? In addition, when you claim that Michael would lose weight in 4 months if he became a carnivore, you ignore that he stated that he was overweight even before he went vegan and that it is part of his family’s genetics.
      Part of the luxury of the modern era is making choices and having rights that were not available in the past. The choice to select veganism is a right. What we do not have is the right to criticize them for their choice.
      By the way, I am not a vegan myself, but I am, mostly, a mindful omnivore. My daughter is vegan, and my son and husband are pescatarians. I respect their dietary choices, and we all make it work under one roof.

    2. Seems to me the person looking to feel superior to others is the non vegan going on a vegan’s website to tell them why their life choices are inferior to their own.

    3. Lis Woodrow says:

      What an arrogant person you are. Just because their was no absolute vegans in history, doesn’t mean people shouldn’t go vegan now. World overpopulation and the wrecking of environment through industrialised farming makes going vegan beneficial to the animals, the planet and to ourselves.

  7. Thanks a lot for this story. I’m Nigerian and I became vegan when I was 14 in 2014 and that lasted for about 2 weeks then I just became vegetarian without the exercise or well planned diet. Coming into 2020 I started this #nofat2020 thing and became vegan again. Today makes it 3 weeks of strict veganism although I tend to eat yogurts and tin sardines these are the only processed foods I eat. I have discovered positive changes in my body and learnt a whole lot about nutrition although no much difference in weight. I hope to continue this through out this year and hopefully make it a lifestyle. I still struggle with exercising though but your post has made me understand things better. Thank you so much again

    1. Hi Doreen, thanks for sharing your experience with us. You should be proud that you continue to fight for a vegan lifestyle. I do not doubt that you’ll eventually get there. Nice to see another West African on the blog 🙂 All the best for 2020.

    2. In sorry but if you eat sardines and yogurt you are not a vegan esp not a strict vegan

    3. Veronique says:

      You’re not a vegan when you eat sardines and yoghurt. Please stop tying to change a definition to suit your motives. You’re an omnivore.

  8. I totally understand your frustration! Since high school I tried out all different kinds of diets thinking that “the one” would help me get super skinny. I tried The raw food diet, veganism, whole foods, keto, low carb, paleo, and more. On some I lost a bit of weight, but I never felt right or satisfied. I kind of just gave up and quickly went from a bit chubby to obese. I finally found out by reading that although eating for good nutrition definitely matters, any food can make you fat because weight gain is an insulin problem, not a problem of food group elimination. That’s why keto works for weight loss so well for some people, but I didn’t feel healthy or right eating that much dairy and meat. So I found out about fasting, and holy cow! If only I’d known years ago. Fasting lowers insulin no matter what diet you’re on, and I found that it helps suppress appetite if you do it for long enough. I’ve had great success with one meal a day and alternate day fasting. Now I just focus on eating a balanced diet without eliminating any food groups but I try to make veggies the bulk of my meals. Good luck!

    1. Hi Merman, it’s so refreshing to read about your experience, as I can relate on many levels. I’m stoked you’ve found something with OMAD, as I did 🙂 All the best with your journey and thanks for sharing with us.

  9. In our culture that looks at people and animals superficially, not seeing the sentience of animals, not seeing the soul within, and judging on the surface of people, you are a light of illumination in the darkness. Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

    1. Aw, thank you so much, Shannon! I wish we could all look at the truth directly in the eyes, instead of turning the other way.

  10. You eat too much, man. Doesn’t matter if you’re vegan, paleo, whatever–you eat too much, you gonna get fat. And that person’s comment about soy is just–well, dumb. How many BILLIONS of people in Asia eat soy? LOL.

    1. Hi Nishi, I agree, I’ve historically overeaten. Unfortunately, some plant-based diets are positioned in a way to make you believe that you can consume unlimited calories and still lose weight. My intent with this post was to set the right expectations when transitioning to a vegan lifestyle and to change the narrative to the exploitation of animals.

  11. Firstly well done for making this choice and sticking to it. Hubby and I find it quite difficult living a plant based lifestyle but well worth it. Try stay away from anything processed, and don’t touch soy, it mimics estrogen in your body which will add weight and all kinds of health issues. Also, wheat . Essentially try eat whole foods as much as possible. We have a great no and again.

    1. Hi Fran, thank you for your suggestions. You’re right, anything processed, vegan or not, is not good. Since publishing this post, I’ve made some changes to my diet that have drastically improved my weight. Thank you for supporting animals through your consumption habits 🙂

  12. Fat Shaming comes in all forms, especially through unconscious bias. I try to practice Radical Fat Acceptance (for myself and others), though I struggle to do so. Which brings me back to this article – I would have LOVED it if this had been called, as you said in a comment above, “The Pressure of Being a Healthy Vegan” and focused more on actions rather than appearances. The action of eating a whole food plant based diet instead of a processed, packaged veggie burger. The action of cooking at home instead of buying a meal out, especially fast food.

  13. Hi Alia, it’s a personal journey, and I agree—it’s helpful to look within as opposed to relying on others. Nobody knows your body better than you.

  14. Courtney Hope says:

    An ex lover of mine once told me he couldn’t understand why I was curvier than other girls when I ate so healthily. I’ve always been bigger due to my genetics, and I lost 20kgs by working out including 7kgs that were lost when I went vegan (which was for ethical reasons, not for weight-loss reasons) but I like to graze and I make it my mission to visit all the new delicious restaurants around Canberra with vegan options. It’s more about genetics and exercise and quantity, which I dont think I do well

    1. Hey Courtney, thanks for being vulnerable and sharing your story. It’s amazing how you had that kind of results without having that intention. And it looks like we have the same mission when it comes to vegan restaurants in Canberra ?

  15. On November 23 2018 I finished my 40-day spiritual vegetable fast (<600 kcal per day) based on the Biblical person who fasted Daniel. I travelled to Poland, where those retreats are very popular (as proven effective) to join a fasting retreat for 6 days to learn how to do it properly. My intention was to heal from unexplained chronic pain. Exercise 4 times per day/prayer 3 x per day/ meals 3 x per day/ lectures on healthy eating 2 x day. This fast is based on lowest calories veggies like cauliflower, greens, squash, tomato, cucumber, fermented veggies at every meal etc. No oil. No legumes or grains. The volumes of food plentiful. I finished my fast without feeling hungry and almost finished 40 day exit process. Long exit to prevent yoyo effect. I lost 18 pounds and kept it off. This fast resets your metabolism so it becomes more effective in digesting fats and carbs. It resets your taste buds and habits. I now eat salad before each meal even breakfast. Every single participant lost weight. Some more than I as they started heavier. I now believe in fasting as the healing method. Especially since it got a 2016 Nobel Prize in Medicine (for describing autophagy – a process where our body cannibalizes sick cells). My pain was gone in week 3. It did not come back. 🙂 You wont see it advertised any time soon as fasting is FREE! Free gift from Mother Nature. Nobody makes a buck on your back.

    1. Hi Iwona! Apologies, I only just saw your comment. What an incredible transformation through this retreat. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. Since writing publishing this post, I’ve also had some great results through fasting 🙂 Michael

  16. For those of you having trouble loosing weight as a vegan look up Chef AJ and she will guide you. The simple answer is cut out all fats, processed food, and eat less calorie dense.

  17. Thank you for this — I am very familiar with the conflict you describe. Let’s work toward a vegan world without fatphobia!

  18. A very interesting topic, thanks for sharing. I think what you mention in one of the above comments is true- that ultimately, honesty and imperfection could be more comforting and appealing to people than a fake veneer of guaranteed health.
    Nevertheless, it is a tricky thing to deal with as a vegan, feeling like you need to hide any health problems for fear that your diet will be culpable. I suppose we can remind people how much trouble western society is in at large with health problems, obesity and the standard western diet.

    1. Hi Claudia, thanks for commenting. I agree with your narrative regarding looking at society as a whole, and the problems we face collectively about health.

  19. Hey Michael,
    Thanks for sharing such a personal story. I can also relate with your story, being a bit chubbier myself. I’ve heard a couple of times “why aren’t you skinnier”?
    But I agree with what you say: ” I’ve found relative peace with who I am and how I look. At the end of the day, I’m healthy and energetic, and that’s more than what I could ask for.”


    1. Hi Sandra, you’re very welcome! That perception is certainly there, whether we like it or not. So it comes down to how we feel about ourselves.

      Thank you for all of the work you do on your blog.

  20. Hi Adele, you are too kind.
    Putting measurements aside, I actually feel great and I know I’m blessed with more energy than most people I know. Also, since becoming vegan, I rarely get sick. But this is just my journey. Everyone has their own story.
    Thank you for sharing your experiences on the compassionate path. Keep on glowing.

  21. Boy, does that resonate with me. I am a 15-year whole foods vegan, who is also 15-20 pounds overweight. However, I am textbook healthy. At 62, I have perfect BP, very low cholesterol levels, and normal blood sugar levels, and unlike most of my peers, I take NO meds for “lifestyle diseases.” Yet, I have been treated to rude comments to my face and behind my back about being “fat.” I was a heavy child who stress-ate, a borderline anorexic college girl, and a thin, but perpetually hungry young adult. As a mature adult, I refuse to make food an enemy any more. I do fast intermittently. I was doing so before i knew the practice even had a name. It is not difficult for me to go many hours without food–it even energizes me to do so. But when I break the fast, I eat well, always plant-based, rarely processed, simple and down-to-earth (literally and figuratively). I may have a plump hour-glass figure, but in my sunset years, I have grown fond of my shape. I am proud of its strength–I can walk for miles and carry things most women half my age struggle to pick up. Once again, you have written an inspiring post that speaks profoundly to me. I wish I knew more people like you.

    1. Deborah, you ought to be proud of the conviction in the way you live. When I read your story, I see intentionality and purpose. I too feel great “under the hood”, but it’s not reflected in my weight. I think at the end of the day, regardless of your appearance, if you bring clean energy into the way you live, people, perhaps respect that more than your appearance. You have inspired me today, and I thank you.

  22. Losing weight is not easy, but I think that, as strict vegetarians, or as vegans we should set a good example so that we are at a healthy, low weight (not average according to new standards of fatness). Though I was not fat, I needed to lose about 5lbs to be at my best & healthiest weight. Following the recommendations of The Plant Paradox book by Dr. Stephen Gundry made dropping weight really easy. It’s vegan-friendly and shows you how to get your microbiome (whence our health and weight derive) back to a good state.

    1. With all due respect Cara, I’m sick of the responsibility for others eating animals being put on me. As a vegan I’m already doing my part, if someone is contributing to the torture and death of animals then isn’t that on them? I think it’s unfair for me to be blamed for others not becoming vegan and if they were to become vegan purely because they wanted a ‘vegan body’ it’s just not going to stick. I am vegan, I have weight issues that I had all my adult life and long before becoming vegan. The difference now is that I don’t contribute to the cruelty of the omnivore/veg lifestyle. Is that not example enough?

  23. Thank you for sharing! I think the problem is that veganism gets marketed as a single cure for everything – for the planet, for people’s health etc. A good example is the documentary “What the Health”. It ends like a cheap TV-commercial, promising going vegan will cure all ailments in a matter of weeks. I understand this format might have been consciously picked to appeal to mass audiences (and like you said, people mainly want to know what’s in it for them), but I feel like it’s misrepresentational and can produce the opposite effect when people don’t get the results they’ve been promised. There is no magic solution that cures everything, why do we need to act like there is? It just leads to disappointment.
    Don’t get me wrong, veganism is the solution for a lot of problems. Still, not all of them. The problem is we are so scared of admitting it because people might lose interest in giving it a try. I still feel like being open and honest is the best solution.

    1. Hi Lea, I also remember watching What the Health and feeling the same way as you. I even had friends approach me after watching the documentary saying that they’re going to become vegan because of the argued health benefits. But even then, there’s so much to explore in a plant-based lifestyle to optimise health in a way that’s specific to each individual.

      “The problem is we are so scared of admitting it because people might lose interest in giving it a try. I still feel like being open and honest is the best solution.”

      I love what you said here. This is what it’s all about. Let’s lay it all out on the table for people considering this lifestyle. If anything, that honesty ends up being more appealing to people as it’s more “real”. Thanks for sharing.

  24. I can appreciate this topic. I did lose weight when I went vegan, but I am (and have always had a tight but curvy body shape). The end especially speaks to me as I have a number of health issues that many people would like to attribute to not getting nutrients from animals. Two are genetic blood disorders and the other is an allergy that did begin after veganism had entered my life–a strange coconut allergy. I began reading about gut health and how it can tip off hives and reactions. I quickly learned many processed vegan foods had things that are bad for your gut health. For example, soy is bad for my blood disorder and apparently not good for gut health. It’s a learning process that I have chosen to embrace. My skin has cleared up and inflammation has decreased. I’ll keep building on the positive.

    1. Hi Keish, thank you for sharing your experiences. I could have easily re-titled this post “The Pressure of Being a Healthy Vegan” as it this topic goes far beyond weight. As you said, there is still so much to learn about the plant-based diet and how it relates to our vitality. I’m glad you were able to find some solutions.

  25. What a topic, I weighed myself this morning and am heavier than I have ever been. I went completely vegan over a year ago and yes I must admit I am a junk food vegan (obviously!), and yes I really do relate to trying to look and present an image of vegan vitality to encourage others. I also went vegan purely for the animals but I know for the sake of veganism I have got to get my act together. Thanks for your article, I have not read anything related to this topic before so enjoyed reading it.

    1. Hi Jenny, I’m glad you enjoyed the angle of this post. Saving animals is definitely a motivator to live our healthiest lives. You have also inspired me 🙂 Thanks for sharing your experience a year into veganism.

  26. Thank you for sharing Michael! <3

  27. Diana Hoover says:

    I think it’s important to point out here that being vegan alone isn’t going to lead to good health. It’s a critical aspect of it, but so is portion control, good nutrition, and exercise. It’s possible to be vegan and eat a lot of baked products made with vegan fats and sugar, vegan cookies, vegan chocolates and other sweets, processed vegan “meats,” vegan breads, etc., without a lot of vegetables, and not exercise on top of it. This, of course, will lead to being overweight. As we educate people about veganism, we also need to educate them about doing it healthfully.

    1. Hi Diana, you make some great points! There are people who are healthy on a vegan or non-vegan lifestyle because they commit to their health. I do however believe that there many who claim that a vegan diet broadly speaking will transform your health. While there are way more considerations of what you eat within a vegan diet that will yield the results you seek.