Vegan Diets and Weight Loss

As global rates of obesity continue to rise, we look at whether there is a link between a healthy vegan diet and weight loss.

An array of fruit and vegetables. A healthy vegan diet can tackle obesity and support weight loss.
Image Credit: AdobeStock

Obesity is a known risk factor for high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, certain types of cancer (breast, endometrial and bowel), and other chronic conditions, and vegans on average have lower rates.

Some of the research on obesity levels are concerning:

  • The majority of adults in the UK are overweight or obese (61%) with rates of morbid obesity trebling between 1993 and 2018.
  • A 2019 report by Diabetes UK warned of a doubling in obesity levels in two decades, with record numbers being treated for Type 2 diabetes.
  • The head of the NHS has warned that this “startling” trends could cut short thousands of lives.
  • Studies have shown that, on average, vegans have a healthier Body Mass Index (a measure that uses your height and weight to work out if your weight is healthy) compared to omnivores and vegetarians.
  • A study published in 2015 in the journal Nutrition compared the effectiveness of five different diets for weight loss in overweight adults: vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, reducetarian or omnivorous. Those on the vegan diet lost the most weight compared to any other group. The study concluded that: ‘Vegan diets may result in greater weight loss than more modest recommendations’.
  • A meta-analysis of randomised trials published in 2016 in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, on the effect of vegetarian diets on obesity rates, found that vegetarian diets achieved significantly greater weight loss than energy-restriction diets, and that vegan diets produced greater weight loss than vegetarian diets.
  • A two year controlled trial in Obesity compared a moderate low fat diet to a vegan diet. The results showed that the vegans lost significantly more weight than those on the low fat diet.

So… is there a connection between a vegan diet and weight loss? Of course, not all vegan diets are healthy and will lead to weight loss. With so many vegan foods readily available, it is easier than ever to rely on convenience foods that are highly processed, and high in fat and sugar. A whole food plant-based diet is rich in grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, and is the basis for a nutritious and healthy diet to fuel your body and keep you well.


Thinking of trying vegan?

Veganuary inspires and supports people all over the world to try vegan for January and beyond. Millions of people have already taken part. Will you join them?