If you’re wondering whether these vegan diet plan things really work for shedding a few pounds, the answer is a resounding yes.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, vegans and vegetarians in the United States over 20 years of age have an obesity rate of less than 10% compared to 65% of meat eating adults.
That's a pretty compelling fact.
However, as with anything, there is a right and a wrong way to go about a plant-based diet - I can tell you that from experience!
I've created this simple summary to help clear things up with my favorite 5 vegan weight loss plans which approach the subject from different angles.
My Personal Story on Plant-Based Dieting
I experimented with various plant-based diet plans before eventually turning vegan two years later.
Some worked for me and I did lose weight, though not as much as I could have done (I just wasn't consistent). However the real benefits - not just weight loss but changes to health, hair and skin - came when I eventually turned vegan.
Even if that is not the path you take, the one lesson I can teach hand on heart is that developing a system for healthy living is so much better than setting goal after goal.
That's easy to say, but how do you start?
Well, truth be told it was not on any of the plans below, but on this amazing (and beautiful) ebook.
It's not by anyone on TV and not on Amazon (a young couple in Sweden, I think?), but for me it was fantastic: simple and easy to read with tons of useful information I could print off when needed.
I didn't want to include it as a 'plan' below as it is not from anyone well-known you can read up on or research, but I very, very much recommend it.
Oh, and one other tip I can give you. And this is from experience.
Whether you slip up or struggle times or get frustrated, don't stop loving yourself and looking after yourself. Tomorrow is always another day.
I hope you enjoy my guide!
5 Things To Know Before Starting a Vegan Diet
Whether you’re already living a vegan lifestyle or getting ready to make the switch, eating vegan brings many health benefits. In addition to weight loss, it can protect against heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer.
According to a number of studies, vegan diet may improve kidney function, lower blood sugar levels, and reduce arthritis pain.
Once you understand the advantages, it may be tempting to choose a plan and jump right in. Before you do, there are some things you should know.
The following information will make the transition easier and improve your chance of success.
1. Vegan Diet Plans Aren’t Always Healthy
Just because a food is vegan doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for you.
Processed vegan food is usually loaded with sodium, preservatives, and artificial ingredients. Processing removes many of the natural nutrients, and the human body may have a hard time digesting it.
Some commercial foods create reward sensations that lead to over-consumption and can even cause addiction.
Try to avoid any vegan weight loss program that encourages you to incorporate processed foods into your daily routine. Although an occasional treat won’t hurt, the best plans focus on fresh, natural ingredients.
2. Following a Vegan Meal Plan Can be Expensive
Some vegan diet plans start with a large up-front cost while others require a monthly membership fee. When you add this to the cost of the necessary ingredients, the plan can may end up being more expensive than you thought.
Another concern is that most vegan diet plans don’t consider fruit and vegetable growing seasons.
Buying produce out of season costs more and can increase your carbon footprint.
Locally grown produce often tastes better, has higher nutrient levels, and may have less chemical and pesticide exposure. See the benefits here for buying in season.
3. Flexibility is Important
If you’re overly strict with yourself, you will find it difficult to stick with the plan. It’s important to be flexible and give yourself some room to make the occasional mistake.
You must also be willing to make substitutions when necessary. If your plan calls for an ingredient that’s not available, change it out for something that is.
As with any meal plan, there are bound to be some foods you don’t enjoy eating. Instead of forcing yourself, simply try cooking that food a different way or with different sauces.
For example, I was never a huge fan of broccoli when I was younger, but that's because I had always had it steamed and soft. As soon as I discovered how crispy they get when roasted with salt and paprika it was a whole new world.
You can also replace the foods you don't like for the next closest thing, then revisit that food later on.
It's surprising how after changing your diet in other areas when you come back to a food you previously did not like you start to warm to it. It can happen.
For a vegan diet plan weight loss to stick, it must become a way of life. So keep trying and experiment, all the while doing your best to make it a fun and enjoyable experience.
4. Going Vegan Isn’t Easy
There is a difference between plant-based dieting and the vegan lifestyle. If you are going vegan for more than just the weight loss - such as health concerns, moreal convictions, or something else - you will likely find that the switch is harder than you expected..
Your family and friends may not support your decisions. Almost everyone will question whether you are getting enough protein and nutrients. Social situations that involve food like parties, sporting events, and date night, will be more difficult to navigate.
Every significant lifestyle change requires effort and may result in some push-back from others. When things get tough, take the time to remember reasons why you chose this lifestyle in the first place.
Also don't forget you can fight back too with the facts as to your nutrition and the most common questions. This article we wrote on plant-based complete proteins is a good place to start.
Stick to your guns, and eventually, you’ll find that you no longer have to defend your decision.
5. Exercise Will (Always!) Help Your Weight Loss
Although diet has a major impact on your ability to maintain a healthy weight, you must not ignore the importance of exercise.
Whether you thrive on intense workouts or prefer something gentler like yoga or walking, try to incorporate at least 30 minutes of activity into your daily routine.
Benefits of regular exercise include increased energy, improved mood, and better sleep. It can even bring a little spark back into your bedroom!
Now that you’ve got some background information, you’re ready to choose a plan. Here’s a list of my favorite vegan weight loss plans.
My Favorite 5 Vegan Weight Loss Plans
A new diet plan is a big commitment, and a large financial outlay isn’t always the best way to get started. For this reason, I’ve chosen plans with a low up-front cost and no ongoing fees. If you feel like you need more in-person support, you may want to explore other options.
In the meantime, these five plans are an excellent introduction to weight loss - the vegan way!
We pay more for health care per person than any industrialized country in the world, yet we are sicker than ever
This 28-day guide is based on the popular documentary “Forks over Knives” and starts from the central idea that western society is sick, overweight and unhealthy because we have lost connection with what our body needs for nutrition.
We also have a system in place from the food manufacturers to government and healthcare that would like to keep it that way.
Providing fantastic information as to how a plant-based diet strengthens your body's metabolism and leads to weight loss, this book comes packed with practical advice on stocking up the right supplies and over 100 recipes.
I also really enjoyed the sections on personal stories from people who have changed their lives using a vegan diet plan.
'The food you put into your body works its way through your organs and bloodstream and is actually part of who you are. So every time you put crap in your body, you are crap.'
It has been over 5 years since the original Skinny Bitch hit the shelves in 2007, with its irreverent tone and sharp tongued wit.
For many the marketing was a little too much of style over substance (“Soda is liquid Satan” was one of the tag lines). The no-nonsense style was appreciated by enough though for follow up titles including ‘Vegan Swaps’ and diet plans while pregnant - or having a ‘Bun In The Oven,’ as they put it on their cover.
While there have been lots of different cook books under the Skinny Bitch titles, the most recent Skinny Bitch: Ultimate Everyday Cookbook is my personal favorite. Partly because as a wife and mom now she also focusses on food and health for children to put them on the right path with their weight.
To become healthy, disease-resistant, and permanently thin, you can’t escape the necessity of eating large amounts of nutrient-rich, healthy food
Eat to Live, written by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, is a scientifically-backed six-week plan to improve your health by changing the way you eat.
This plan is a bit different from the others because it addresses the topic of toxic hunger, food addiction, and its impact on weight loss. It is, frankly, fascinating.
Based on the concept of nutrient density, the premise of the plan is that by consuming large portions of nutrient-dense foods, you can train your body to give up its cravings for low-nutrient foods.
This reduces food addiction and leads to better health and weight loss.
Don't eat bear balls. Eat healthy, delectable, plant-based foods so that you will never fall over on your cat
Former professional athlete and fireman Rip Esselstyn originally designed this plan to address the health concerns of his co-workers in their Austin, TX firehouse.
The plan worked, resulting in weight loss, lowered cholesterol, and overall improvement in health for everyone who participated. He’s now shared the plan in this awe-inspiring book.
Acting as both a motivator and coach, Rip gives you everything you need to change your life in four weeks.
Nothing you do to improve your eating habits is going to work or stick or become a regular part of your life if you don’t respect yourself.
In the 2010 documentary “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead” Joe Cross - one hundred pounds overweight and suffering from autoimmune disease - records his journey to reclaim his life and health.
Juicing and micro-nutrients become a big part of his solution, which results in not only weight loss but freedom from the medications that doctors had originally said he could never live without.
In this book he shares his story of what it was life before he took control of his life as well as the solutions he discovered.
How to Create Your Own Vegan Meal Plan
Following a meal plan created by others may not be right for you. If you want to have more control over your diet or would like to dabble with a few recipes at a time, a DIY meal plan may be a better option.
When designing your custom plan, it’s important to be patient with yourself and not to shy away from experimentation.
Here are some simple tips to help you get started.
Try At Least One New Recipe Every Week
There’s a bit of a learning curve involved in vegan cooking, but the recipes you choose don’t have to be complicated. You can start with something as simple as a super-food smoothie or new flavor of overnight oats.
Use weekends or other easy days to tackle more complicated recipes. We have loads of recipes here whether you are planning an easy weekday vegan meal or a cooking up a storm for guests.
When you find one you like, keep it in a place where it’s easy to access. Before you know it, you’ll have plenty of recipes on hand and feel like a pro in the kitchen.
Just be sure to try something new every week, so you begin to learn which foods you enjoy eating. Experiment, experiment, experiment!
Familiarize Yourself with the Ingredients
When you first start exploring vegan recipes, some of the ingredients may sound foreign to you. Don’t panic. Most can be found at your local high-end grocery or health-food store.
I recommend taking some time to wander around the aisles and familiarize yourself with the many options available.
If you’re looking for something specific and can wait a day or two, it’s easy to order whatever you need from an online grocery retailer. This gives you the option to read reviews and compare products before buying.
Make Sure Your Plan is Nutritionally Sound
It’s important to be conscious of your nutritional needs while following a vegan weight loss plan. It’s actually very easy to get enough protein, but you’ll need to make sure you get enough iron, zinc, and calcium. You’ll also need to take a B-12 supplement as there is no vegan source for this vitamin.
When designing your plan, make sure that each meal contains each of the following:
Variety of vegetables
Fruit (or a colorful vegetable)
If you follow these guidelines and stick to natural, unprocessed foods, you shouldn’t have any nutritional problems. If you’re concerned, a vegan multivitamin will help to fill in anything that’s lacking.
Write Out Your Plan, and Follow Through
You’re more likely to stick to a plan if you write it down. At the beginning of every week, plan out the meals and snacks you’ll eat each day. This will help you to avoid making bad decisions when you’re tired and hungry.
If you follow a plan, you’re also more likely to reduce food waste by incorporating leftovers into future meals.
Prepping as much as possible ahead of time also helps you to stay on track. When you get home from the grocery store, take the time to wash and cut up vegetables. Store them in airtight containers for easy access throughout the week.
You’ll appreciate the added convenience when it’s time to make your meals.
Although every one of these vegan weight loss plans brings something to the table, Eat to Live is a clear winner in my opinion - no matter who you are.
This book has a plan for addressing the all-too-common (but oh so subtle) problem of food addiction that we suffer from here in the west.
But it also provides a clear plan for combating the effects of a lifetime of toxic eating. Yes, it's a little short on the motivational support and personal stories, but I found that the knowledge was motivation enough.
Whatever plan you choose, again I recommend this ebook as a starter if you are still feeling your way around what plant-based eating means. And, as I said before, loving yourself every step of the way makes this journey a positive one.
I hope this has been helpful and you will get the kind of support you need from these plans.
If you aren't vegan already and you are just checking this out as a way to lose weight (as I once was) I hope we will be seeing more of you and one day you may even take the plunge!