A vegan diet is a vegan diet. Right?  Nope!  Some vegans, barring health problems, are FAT VEGANS because of the nature of their vegan diet.

Nothing is more puzzling than to meet a person who claims to be a vegan but is obese. Our minds immediately spin into dissonance at the sight of a fat vegan: vegans are supposed to be skinny, not fat! Seems to make no sense, until we explore a bit deeper.

How could there possibly be obese vegans?

It’s all about the type of  vegan diet, assuming the person is free of a disease or genetic issues that causes him or her to be fat.

One of the most common reasons for the existence of fat vegans is HABIT SUBSTITUTION.  I used to be one of those who substituted rather than adopted a wholesale change in types of foods I’d eat.

In this phenomenon of habit substitution, the vegan, once a carnivore, expects to maintain a state of homeostasis for his or her tastes and preferred food textures, instead of going with the flow of making an all-out change. In other words, coming from the taste and feel of meats, this type of vegan expects to enjoy like for like by substituting FAKE MEATS in the place of real meats. Texture-wise, and sometimes in taste, too, these fake meats can come pretty close, and are a tolerable substitute, to real meat. Often fake meats are made from isolated soy proteins. Isolates soy proteins may also be used to make fake dairy products.

In lay person terminology, isolated soy protein jacks up our Insulin Growth Factor-1 by multiples greater than the casein in milk, or the protein in animal products. Too much IGF-1 and we get fatter, lots fatter.

The next on a list of causes for fat vegans is a failure to acknowledge that concentrated fats in the form of oils, any oils, including the myth of a “healthy olive oil”, are bad for the waist and especially bad for our arteries. But, let’s stick to the reasons for vegans being fat vegans. Instead of cooking in butter, or margarine, a fat vegan enjoys cooking foods in “healthy” olive oil.  Healthy vegetables are compromised by being cooked in fat, in this case, cooked in olive oil, or any oil, for that matter.

One other failure that causes some vegans to become fat vegans: indulging in non-nourishing SIMPLE carbohydrates, such as sugar and fructose.  [Note: though the media uses the word “carbohydrates” to reference sugar and fructose, it ought to specify “simple” or “refined” carbohydrates.  The other type of carbohydrates, “complex”, refers to whole plant foods such as vegetables, fruits, beans, the healthy nutritious foods. One should always clarify if reference is being mad to refined, (unhealthy), or complex, (healthy), carbohydrates. ]

According to Dr. McDougall, a healthy vegan is one who, “At every step of recipe design and food preparation, replaces fake meats and [fake] dairy products manufactured from soy, seitan, sugar, salt, artificial flavorings and other chemicals… with carbohydrates from starches.” See End Note 1

So, now you know why some vegans look obese and unhealthy. To summarize, the difference is that healthy vegans eat no, or very little:

  1. Isolated soy protein, (aka., fake meats)
  2. Sugar or fructose
  3. Oils of any kind, even the supposed “healthy” olive oil–[no oil is healthy]
  4. DONUTS, cookies, cakes, pastries, deserts made with unhealthy ingredients


  1. “The Fat Vegan” by Dr. John McDougall, M.D.   McDougall Newsletter. December 2008. Vol. 7, No. 12