Vegans don’t need to consume monotone diets! Adding a variety of foods-including high calorie vegan food, can add important nutrients, flavor, and satiety!
Keep reading to learn why high calorie vegan food is not just those who want to gain weight, and discover examples that go beyond peanut butter and chocolate in this RDN (Registered Dietitian Nutritionist) written article!
Disclaimer: This article is only providing education and is not a substitute for medical or dietary advice. Always talk to your doctor about any health concerns, if you want to make major dietary changes, or take a supplement. See our Disclaimers for more details.
*Consumer Notice: This post contains affiliate links that are marked in this manner: (affiliate link*)”. If you click on these links and purchase, I earn a commission at no added cost to you. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
This post was originally published on 5/9/22. The updated date is listed above.
Can Vegan Foods Be Calorie Dense?
Vegan foods can be calorie dense. In fact, there are many! Some examples include avocados, nuts, and oatmeal.
One of the biggest misconceptions about a vegan diet is that you will only be allowed to eat low calorie raw veggies and fruit. This couldn’t be further from the truth!
Taking medical conditions into account, vegans can eat a wide variety of foods. Some are high and some are lower in calorie density.
By the way, we aren’t aware of a set amount of calories for the term “high calorie food.” So, we’ll arbitrarily define it as caloric dense- with about 150 calories per serving in this article.
As a Vegan, Should I Include High Calorie Foods?
Vegans can include high calorie foods – they are not reserved for those who want to gain weight (although, if you are looking for healthy weight gain strategies consult your doctor and Registered Dietitian) .
Depending on the type, these foods can provide important fats, vitamins, minerals and satiety.
In general, calorically dense eats can simply be a great asset to a healthy vegan diet that:
- Includes a wide variety of foods.
- Pays attention to nutrients that may be more tricky to get on a vegan diet (again, some of these foods are calorically dense)
- Meets your unique calorie, protein, and fat needs.
- Uses supplements as appropriate (most vegans will at least need a vitamin B12 supplement- talk to your doctor about your personal needs)
And finally, it’s important to remember that ethical vegans strive to exclude all animal products as sensibly as possible.
This can limit options in the grocery store. So having as few “off limit” vegan foods (keeping in mind any medical conditions) is probably important for sanity (at least it is for me 😉 )!
High Calorie Vegan Food: The List
In summary, this list contains whole and more processed, healthy and less healthy, nutrient dense, and less nutrient dense foods. All contain at least 150 calories per serving with some exceptions. The calorie counts are approximates and can change. Always check the label.
So without further ado, here is quick list of 19 high calorie vegan food:
- Nuts and Nut butters
- Starchy Grains (Ie: pasta, couscous, quinoa, rice)
- Plant Based Yogurt
- Vegan Chocolate
- Vegan Granola
- Plant Based Butter/Margarine
- Vegan Ice Cream
- Vegan Protein Powder and Bars
- Dried Fruit
- Baked Goods (veganized)
- Seeds and Seed Butters
- Vegan Protein Shakes
- Coconut Products
- Plant Based Dips/Spreads (Like hummus, cashew cheese)
- Plant Based Smoothies
- Plant Based Burgers
*As a reminder, affiliate links are used in the next sections marked in this manner: “(affiliate link*)”. If you click on the link and purchase, I earn a commission at no added cost to you.
Nuts and Nut Butters
Per 2 tablespoons: Peanut Butter: 190; Almond Butter: 196
Per 1 ounce: Cashews: 157; Pistachios: 159
- Nutrition: Ok, so this is broad category. Each nut has different nutritional benefits, but all listed above provide some fiber, healthy fats, and plant based protein. Additionally, walnuts are rich in the essential fatty acid Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
- Calories: Per 201 grams: 322
- Nutrition: Avocados provide lots of potassium and dietary fiber (two nutrients of public health concern per the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans). They are unique in that they also provide lots of healthy monounsaturated fats as well!
- Nutrition: Potatoes have fiber, potassium, carbohydrates, and sweet potatoes specifically have a plethora of beta carotene ( a precursor to vitamin A). Learn more about why Vitamin A should be on your radar in our article here!
Starchy Grains (Ie: pasta, couscous, quinoa, rice)
- Calories: Per 1 Cup Cooked Serving: Pasta: 220; Couscous: 176; Quinoa: 222
- Nutrition: This is such a broad category, that the nutrient content will vary depending on the type of grain! For example, white couscous has less fiber than quinoa (technically a seed, but often used as a grain!).
- Calories: Per One tenth a cup serving: Olive Oil 198 calories; Canola Oil: 193 calories
- Nutrition: Depending on the oil, the fat composition will differ. For example, coconut oil will have more saturated fat than extra virgin olive oil.
Plant Based Yogurt
- Calories: Per 3/4 cup serving: Silk Unsweetened Vanilla Yogurt: 180
- Nutrition: Check the label and compare! Some have nutrients added (like calcium and vitamin D), some have more or less protein, etc.
- Calories: Per one third a bar: Beyond Good Salted Caramel (affiliate link*): 150
- Nutrition: Dark chocolate may contain flavanols and important minerals, like iron. Check out our article the Ultimate Guide to Vegan Chocolate to learn more!
- Calories: Per one third a cup: Nature’s Path No Added Sugar Vanilla Almond Butter Granola: 150
- Nutrition: Many granolas feature oats and a decent amount of fiber. Some contain healthy fats from nuts and seeds. Check the label if you are conscious about added sugar, which can really stack up in granolas!
Plant Based Butter/Margarine
Ok, so this one may be an exception to the 150 calorie per serving “definition” we declared at the beginning of this section. Why? well, its because we seldom eat butter by itself (and it can be easy to unconsciously use more than a serving)! Common use includes a spread for bread, an ingredient in baking etc. It’s likely, the final food item is over 150 calories.
- Calories: Per one tablespoon: Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Sticks, 78% Vegetable Oil Spread: 100 calories
- Nutrition: This depends on the brand! Some butters may add vitamin A, and D, while others don’t. Some vegan butters include more unsaturated fats, and some include less healthy saturated fats. Check the label!
Vegan Ice Cream
- Calories: Per half a cup serving: Cado Mint Chocolate Chip (affiliate link*): 170
- Nutrition: Ice cream is often not the most nutrient dense food, so keep that in mind! Check out the ingredients list as brands/varieties vary in nutrition. We have tried and enjoyed the ice cream in the example above, and were impressed that the saturated fat was lower than some other brands!
As an alternative, you could make banana “ice cream!” Here is a simple calorie dense vegan recipe:
Banana “Ice Cream” Ingredients/Recipe :
* Meal Prep: make sure you have a spotted brown banana already frozen!
-one frozen banana (blended up)
-plant based milk (for example, soy milk – as needed to be blended with the banana to make smooth)
-Additional toppings (ie: nuts and seeds or nut/seed butter, dried fruit, chocolate chips, etc)
Vegan Protein Powder and Bars
- Calories: Vegan Protein Powder: Per 26 gram serving: Vivo Life Unflavored Vegan Protein Powder (111 calories) blended with 1 cup Silk Original Almond Milk (60 calories): 171 calories total.
Vegan Protein Bar: Per 1 Bar: Rise Pea Protein Bar Sunflower Cinnamon (affiliate link*): 280 calories.
- Nutrition: You are likely to to find vegan protein powders and bars with a decent to large amount of plant based protein (surprised?), but other than that, nutrients are going to vary depending on the product!
Some will have higher or lower amounts of amounts of fat, some will have various vitamins and/or minerals added, case in point: check the label. And if you are concerned about added sugar, know that many protein bars can pack in alot!
- Calories: example- Sunsweet Amazin Prunes (2/3 a cup): 170
- Nutrition: Nutrient content will depend on the fruit. For example, prunes have a hefty amount of potassium.
Baked Goods (veganized)
- Calories: Made Good’s Double Chocolate Cookies – 160 calories per 4 cookies
Annie’s Organic Flakey Biscuits – 170 calories per biscuit
- Homemade Banana Bread -widely variable in calories
- Nutrition: Sometimes baked goods, like the cookies in the example are fortified with nutrients like vitamin D! Other baked goods might provide nostalgia and little in terms of sustenance.
Seeds and Seed Butters
- Calories: per two tablespoons: 196; Tahini (sesame seed butter)
Per 3 tablespoons: Pumpkin Seeds: 160; Ground Flaxseeds: 150
- Nutrition: Healthy fats, and in some cases, such as flaxseeds- a significant dose of ALA omega 3 fatty acids.
Vegan Protein Shakes
- Calories: Ripple Vanilla Protein Shake – 200 calories per 12 once bottle
- Nutrition: Shakes can be a convenient way to get a hefty amount of plant based protein on the go. Some provide other important vitamin and minerals as well (check the label).
- Calories: Per 45 grams of raw coconut meat: 159 calories
- Nutrition: Coconut meat provide a decent source of nutrients potassium and also contains fiber. However, straining it out till you get a milky like product may reduce some fiber. Coconuts do have a hefty dose of saturated fat-something we should be mindful to limit.
Plant Based Dips/Spreads (Ex: Hummus, Cashew “cheese”)
- Calories: Variable! Costco’s Kirkland brand Organic hummus Individual containers contain about 170 calories per 71 gram serving.
- Nutrition: Dips are so much fun and can provide nutrients, like protein from beans and nuts as well as healthy fats.
Plant Based Smoothies
- Calories: Example: Forager Project’s Organic Probiotic Smoothie (Mango Peach Flavor)– 240 calories per bottle
- Nutrition: Widely variable depending on what’s in it! Various fruits, veggies, and plant based milks can be can be used which may supply a decent dose of calcium if fortified.
Plant Based Burgers
- Calories: Per one Impossible Burger 4 ounce patty: 230 calories
- Nutrition: Unlike a meat burger, your plant based burgers just might provide a decent dose of fiber!
I enjoy a Impossible Burger every now and then, and can also appreciate that one patty (4 ounces) has about 5 grams of fiber, and some other vitamins that have been added, like vitamin B12 and riboflavin.
In Summary: High Calorie Vegan Food
High calorie vegan foods can definitely fit in vegan meal plans. Examples include whole plant based foods, like nuts and avocados as well as more processed options, such as vegan protein bars and granola.
Calorically dense foods can provide important nutrients, contribute to satiety and/or flavor.
We hope this article was helpful and that you now know these foods are not only for vegans on a weight gain diet! We want to know: do you have any favorite high calorie vegan recipes or meal ideas? Let us know in the comment below!
If you would like to learn more about keeping things plant based, why not explore our blog? We discuss other topics like Intuitive Eating and Veganism: Is it Possible? and Dietitian Selected Plant Based Diet Books.
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