What’s the first image or the first person that comes to your mind when you hear someone being described as a vegan? A sad skinny person with a salad?
This is probably because I’m a football fan, but for me, it’s seven-time Super Bowl Champion Tom Brady, the quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The reason for this is that I buy some health supplements made by his TB12 brand from Amazon on occasion. Most of the powders they sell are made from pea protein because he’s a vegan.
I mentioned this to a friend of mine the other day and she said, “That explains why he’s so in shape. I’ve never seen a fat vegan. Do those exist?” I’d never thought of it that way until she said something, but it’s a very good question.
And, if there do exist, why are they overweight? Seeing as how my daily calorie maintenance is just under 50lbs of lettuce I can’t imagine how much salad a vegan would have to eat to stay fat…
What is a Vegan?
Most people have some idea of what the word “vegan” means, but I’m going to explain it anyway because a lot of my friends get the actual definition wrong.
Veganism is an extension of vegetarianism, the practice of not eating meat or meat by-products. Vegans take it a step further and don’t eat any animals or foods made with animal products.
They also don’t purchase products made from animal hair, so I don’t recommend buying a mink coat for your vegan girlfriend, no matter how good Tallulah Bankhead made them look.
The Impossible Whopper from Burger King is one of the most popular recent examples of this since it is pretty much the same as a normal Whopper, but with a plant protein-based patty instead of one made from a cow.
Other examples of vegan substitute products include various types of nut milk, plant-based cheeses, and Buffalo wings made with cauliflower instead of chicken.
Some people choose to become vegans as a lifestyle choice and others for dietary or other medical reasons.
Some are more strict than others in keeping to the practice. Some people like a break and other times, it’s out of necessity.
I have several vegan friends, one of whom will eat bacon for breakfast when he’s hungover, one who eats at Taco Bell while she’s on vacation, and another who likes cottage cheese and can’t stand any vegan alternatives.
Can Vegans Be Fat?
Since a lot of vegan foods tend to be lower in calories and don’t contain fatty animal proteins, it’s a fair question to wonder whether or not vegans can be fat.
The answer is yes, there are fat vegans. I don’t have any statistics in front of me and I don’t know what percentage, but I’ll explain why it’s possible.
Gaining weight is a simple formula: all a person really has to do is consume more calories through eating and drinking than they burn throughout the day.
Those excess calories are stored in the body as fat. It takes 3,500 calories to equal one pound of weight in the human body.
Nothing else matters for weight gain or loss, just the number of calories. It’s why I don’t take most fad diets seriously.
Sure, a low-fat diet is healthy, but if I’m eating 7,000 calories a day while watching Humphrey Bogart films on Amazon Prime all day, I’m going to continue gaining weight.
Aren’t Most Vegan Foods Low-Calorie?
Some, but not all. A lot of vegan products are specifically aimed at dietary vegans who want to eat healthily, but almost anything can be vegan if no animal products are used.
Lay’s Potato Chips, chocolate chip cookies (made with vegan substitutes for dairy products), and Oreos are all loaded with calories despite being vegan. (Not to mention most fast food fries…)
Nuts and berries are common in vegan diets as they have high levels of key nutrients and, more importantly, they’re delicious. I love salted peanuts.
One cup of salted peanuts can have up to 880 calories. I don’t know about you, but I could easily eat two cups of peanuts in one sitting. Three, if you give me some alcohol to wash it down with.
Speaking of alcohol, a lot of vegans drink beer, in my experience at least. All you really need to brew a beer is barley, water, yeast, and hops, none of which have animal products. Some brewers do add in animal products after the fact, however.
A standard 12-ounce IPA will usually have between 180 and 200 calories. Three beers in one night, which is not a lot for some people, can be up to 600 calories. Well, I assume it’s not a lot, I stick to vodka myself.
How Can I Avoid Becoming Fat as a Vegan?
First, let me be clear: there’s nothing wrong with being fat. If you’re comfortable with your body and there isn’t a major health implication involved, it doesn’t really matter.
That said, the easiest way to avoid gaining weight on a vegan diet is to stick to low-calorie foods that you cook or bake yourself.
Tofu, a staple of the vegan diet for many years, has about 180 calories in a half-cup serving and can easily be flavored to taste like any number of things. For comparison, three Oreo cookies have 160 calories.
A lot of frozen vegan foods can be high in calories as well and are highly processed in order to improve their shelf life.
If you’re a vegan who loves Oreos and frozen enchiladas, you can always increase your levels of exercise. I’m personally not into it, mind you, but I’ve been told that long walks or getting a mini-tramp are some of the best ways for heavy people to lose weight.
The Fat Vegan Acceptance Movement
In an article, a few years back from the Metro UK’s website, a woman named Gillian Fisher wrote about her experiences as a fat vegan.
She details the stereotypes encountered by fat vegans such as herself, from people being shocked when she reveals her dietary choices to people accusing her of sneaking Big Macs on occasion.
Some of these experiences include ridicule from fellow vegans, including one where she was asked if she considered herself “a role model” due to her weight.
Most fat vegans just don’t like the idea of killing animals for human consumption and have chosen a diet that fits that criteria.
They aren’t necessarily interested in fitness, living up to stereotypical ideals, or making sure the number on the scale is low enough to be considered “beautiful” by Hollywood standards.
Yes, there are fat vegans and it is easy for a vegan person to become fat or maintain their previous weight from before they altered their diet.
There is nothing wrong with vegans who have some extra weight and, as a fellow fat person, I salute them. I enjoy eating meat and could never join their movement, but I can still respect it from a distance.
They are not very common, however, at least anecdotally. After I wrote the first paragraph of this article, I sent out text messages to some of my vegan friends that asked, “Do you know any fat vegans?”
All five responded with “no,” although one of them did tell me that he had heard of one in college from a friend of a friend.
If you’re looking to lose weight (and if you actually want to!), you can easily do it on a vegan diet, but it’s not guaranteed.