Are all vegans skinny?

People searching for a way to lose weight and get healthier may consider going vegan.

That’s not a bad plan, but many people don’t understand what a vegan is.

Going vegan is more than just shunning meat which defines vegetarians who do not eat meat, fish, or poultry. Vegans do not use other animal products and by-products such as eggs, dairy products, honey, leather, fur, silk, wool, cosmetics, and soaps derived from animal products.

Some people who claim to be vegan only take it as far as what they eat. They wear leather shoes, carry leather accessories in the pockets of their wool clothing, and drive around in a car with leather seats.

I’m not judging them; I’m simply saying that “being a vegan” is a lot more than just what you eat.

Okay, so vegans are defined by more than their food choices, but does eating “like a vegan” make you skinny?

Don’t count on it, although it certainly could, it’s not a sure thing. It may not even improve your health or lower your cholesterol depending on your genetic makeup and your physical activity level.

In my 25-years experience of helping people to lose weight, I’ve seen a lot of weight loss fads come and go. I’m not suggesting an animal-free way of eating is a fad. I’m saying that people are always searching for the silver bullet, the magic fix, the easy and ultimate way to weigh less forever. There is no quick fix.

The important things about how you decide to lose weight is it must be a good fit with your lifestyle. Eating animal-free may not be a good fit for you. If you go vegan to lose weight and you’re not making a commitment to staying vegan it’s almost 100% guaranteed you’re not going to maintain your goal.

If you are completely dedicated to going and staying vegan, there is still a lot to understand about how eating vegan can or can not support successful weight control.

What do overweight vegans eat?

Cutting out animal isn’t enough to lose weight, especially when the new animal-free eating habits mimic the old ones that included animals. Vegan smoothies, granola, chips, coconut milk, oil and yogurt, and especially sweets – cookies, muffins, cakes and pies are loaded with calories. Removing animals from the recipes doesn’t automatically make them effective choices for losing weight.

What else affects our weight and health besides what we eat?

Weight management isn’t just about the food choices we make, it is also, and for many largely, how we use food. It doesn’t matter if it’s a vegan food or not when we use food to cope with stress or emotions, it has a negative affect on our weight.

Eating like a vegan won’t fix a sedentary lifestyle. Body weight is the result of calories in and calories out. The health benefits some people expect because they’ve changed how they’re eating don’t always happen. Eating like a vegan can’t undo the unhealthy effects of inactivity. The benefits of regular physical activity for our minds and bodies cannot be replicated by any other means. We simply cannot eat well enough to compensate for sitting too much.

Vegan isn’t the easy weight loss answer.

Like any food plan, eating animal-free has its advantages and disadvantages. It’s as healthful or unhealthful as an individual makes it. It can be a way to eat unbalanced – too many calories, too much saturated fat, and too few nutrients. It doesn’t address eating behaviors that result from poor coping skills, too much stress, lack of sleep and physical activity.

It’s not a miracle cure although it can work very well for those who are willing to address all their issues around their weight struggle. It also need to be said that you can lose weight and get the healthy benefits by addressing your issues and enjoying your animal-based foods too.



Jackie Conn

About Jackie Conn

Jackie Conn is married and has four grown daughters and four grandchildren. She is a Weight Watchers success story. She's a weight loss expert with 25 years of experience guiding women and men to their weight-related goals. Her articles on weight management have been published in health, family and women's magazines. She has been a regular guest on Channel 5 WABI news, FOX network morning program Good Day Maine and 207 on WCSH.