Gaining Weight On A Vegan Diet

Vegan Weight Lifting

For some vegans, one of the biggest problems they face is a drop in weight. While losing a few pounds can be beneficial to many people and might even be the reason they chose to go plant-based, others want to take the opportunity to bulk up in a safe and healthy way.​

The reasons for wanting to put on weight vary. However, the top two reasons are;​

  • Weight Lifters – needing to gain weight for aesthetic or competitive purposes. 
  • People who have been sick and looking to get back to their fighting weight.

I’m going to start off by saying something that never fails to trigger my carnivore friends, as well as surprising (sadly) some of my vegan friends

You don’t need to turn to animal protein or unhealthy food if you want to gain a few pounds or put on muscle!

There we go, I’ve said it. Now let’s move on to how this can work for you.

Putting on weight as a vegan is absolutely possible

Simple math, if you want to gain weight, you need to ensure that you are remaining calorie positive each day.

How do you do that?

First, track how many calories you are consuming each day (some suggested tools are discussed later in the article) and add 300-500 calories per day to that.

Simple right? Well in most cases it means that you’re going to have to eat a lot more and eat more higher-calorie food, we’ll talk about that below.

Foods That Are Going To Love Your Muscles

  • Tofu – Not that highly processed and can add healthy fat and protein to your diet.
  • Tempe – Same as above
  • Nuts – a great source of protein
  • Seeds – another great source of protein
  • Olives
  • ​Banana – When paired with your favorite vegan nut butter, it can be a satisfying meal that can boost your calorie intake.
  • Avocado – another great option if you’re looking to gain weight while staying on a plant-based diet. According to Dr Axe, avocados may be the most nutrient-packed food on the planet.
  • Olive Oil – According to Healthline, Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the healthiest fat on earth. While this doesn’t mean you should add olive oil to everything you eat, it does mean that you shouldn’t be afraid to use it where it fits and within moderation.
  • Whole Grains – As a vegan, whole grains are probably a huge part of your diet. If you’re struggling to keep weight on or you’re looking to gain a few more pounds, you may want to consider increasing the amount of whole grains that you are eating, including brown rice, quinoa, beans, tortillas, and certain bread.
  • Bulk with Smoothies – Smoothies are a great way to get a lot of calories, vitamins, and proteins into one meal.

Feel free to experiment and try new things with your smoothies. You may choose to add vegan protein powder, flaxseed, or even oils of your choosing. Because smoothies taste great and are so easy to make, adding a high-calorie smoothie for breakfast or a snack can be a simple way to gain weight without drastically changing your eating habits.

Vegan Food Pyramid

This is a comprehensive food list of what you should eat more (and less) of on the vegan diet.

If you are trying to put on the weight, you will want to consume the maximum of the recommended servings. For e.g. If it recommends 1-2 servings per day, pick ‘2’ for weight gain.

Lifestyle and Exercise

During your ‘bulking’ period, you will want to focus on weight lifting and to reduce the amount of cardio that you are doing.

When you are underweight, your body does not have to work as hard, so it will dispose of unused muscle tissue. It’s critical to work these muscles under load to help build them up once again.

Need some Vegan Weightlifting inspiration? Check this out:

How much do I need to eat?

If you are wondering how much calories you should consume per day to gain weight, then look at this resource by Self Nutrition Data. It will ask you questions such as your age, height, type of exercise, etc.

It’s very cool and worth checking out.

You will also see that it gives you the recommended amount of nutrients and vitamins you need each day.


Use an app like MyfitnessPal or Chronometer. These tools will ensure that you are getting everything you need each day regarding calories, serving size, etc. to keep you on track.​​

Vitamin Supplements

You have probably heard about B12. Whether you are trying to gain weight, lose it or maintain, it’s a very good idea to ensure you are not B12 deficient.

Considering taking a good B12 supplement, as getting enough on a strict vegan diet can be hard with today’s agricultural practices.

Not getting enough B12 in your diet can be severely detrimental, and can lead to cognitive decay, and further weight loss.


Whether you’re just starting a plant-based diet or you’ve been a vegan or vegetarian for years, you need to consider the balance of what you’re eating with everything that you do.

If you need to put on some extra pounds or you’re looking to bulk up, you will want to ensure you’re getting the proper amount of calories that you need. Through adding some high-calorie fruits and vegetables to your diet, introducing a high-calorie breakfast smoothie, adding more whole grains to your diet, and using Extra Virgin Olive Oil when you can, you can be on track to getting the weight gain you’re looking for – all without compromising your diet.

Do you have any weight gaining tips for vegans? What foods and supplements do you use to get great results? let us know in the comments below

Group 22 (2)
about me

Hi! I’m Anna Davis

Anna is the author of Your Vegan Kitchen, she enjoys drawing from her many years of experience in vegan cooking to prepare delicious and healthy meals for her family and friends.


Useful Resources


Favorite Recipes