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High Calorie Vegan Food: A List, Plus What To Know From a Vegan RDN

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We are here to bust some myths about vegan nutrition!

Vegans don’t need to munch on plain lettuce all day. 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, discover examples, and more in this Registered Dietitian Nutritionist written article (P.S: she also happens to be vegan, so you know it will be good)!

Disclaimer: This article 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.

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Can Vegan Foods Be Calorie Dense?

Yes!

That’s good news for those who choose to practice veganism as a philosophy, or in other words, exclude animal products as realistically as possible.

Why? 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 farther from the truth!

Vegans can eat a variety of foods (pending any medical contraindications of course). Some are high and some are lower in calorie density.

But calories aside, each plant based food comes with a different set of nutrients. That’s why you will be hard pressed to find a health professional who recommends cutting out a certain food group in an otherwise healthy person.

We’ll get to examples of high calorie vegan food in a minute, but first, lets discuss another question some of you are probably wondering…

As a Vegan, Should I Include High Calorie Foods?

Firstly, we are not aware of a set calorie minimum for the term “high calorie food.” So we are just going to define it vaguely as “calorically dense.”

In that sense, yes! Vegans should be able to include high calorie foods, because it is well accepted that a healthy vegan diet:

  • Includes a variety of foods (some may be high and some low in calorie)
  • 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 striving to have as few “off limits” vegan foods (keeping in mind any medical conditions) is probably important for sanity!

But surely, those who are on a vegan weight gain diet should include more calorically dense foods right? Lets discuss that next!

Are There Some Vegans That May Need to Include More Calorically Dense Foods?

Possibly!

Here are some examples (not a comprehensive list) of people who may benefit from the addition of more high calorie foods:

  • Those who have lost a significant amount of weight unintentionally
  • Individuals who are suffering adverse health consequences as a result of weight loss.
  • Highly active people, athletes, weight lifters, etc.
  • Those who are having trouble eating sufficient calories (such as from nausea during pregnancy, or as a side effect of chemo, etc)
  • Those who have a medical condition that requires a higher calorie intake.

These individuals may want to talk to their doctor about adding more high calorie foods for a healthy weight gain plan – simply because eating “enough” calories can sometimes be hard without some intentional planning.

High calorie foods can help increase calorie density with lower volume, this can be important for those who have trouble with just “eating more” or large quantities of food.

Alright. Now that we know high calorie foods can fit, what are some examples for vegans?

High Calorie Vegan Food: The List

Since we are not aware of an official calorie minimum for a “high calorie food” – for the sake of consistency, the following foods contain at least 150 calories per serving in the examples listed below (unless otherwise noted)

The calorie count for each food is just an example. Check the label, as different brands/types may vary.

We have included both whole plant based foods (wpbf), as well as more processed foods. While wpbf may be considered by many as more nutrient dense, some more processed foods may be fortified with certain nutrients that could potentially be more tricky to get on a vegan diet (such as calcium), and they offer convince.

Disclaimer: We are not claiming that all of these examples are nutrient dense nor that you must eat all of them. Work with your doctor and dietitian to discuss how foods can fit into your meal plan in conjunction with any medical conditions you have). The calorie counts are approximates. Check the nutrition facts label. This is not a comprehensive list of all high calorie vegan food.

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, Seeds and Nut/Seed Butters

  • Nutrition: Ok, so this is broad category. Each nut or seed has different nutritional benefits, but all listed above provide some fiber, healthy fats, and plant based protein. Additionally, walnuts and flaxseeds are rich in the essential fatty acid Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).

Avocados

Picture of an avocado on a table
  • 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!

Potatoes

  • 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)

  • 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!).

Oil

  • Nutrition: Depending on the oil, the fat composition will differ. For example, coconut oil will have more saturated fat than extra virgin olive oil.

Vegan Yogurt

Picture of Silks Unsweetened vanilla almond milk yogurt alternative
  • Nutrition: Check the label and compare! Some have nutrients added (like calcium and vitamin D), some have more or less protein, etc.

Vegan Chocolate

Picture of Beyond Good Chocolate- Crispy Rice and Salted Caramel flavor.

Vegan Granola

Picture of a bowl with mangos, yogurt, and granola
  • 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!

Vegan 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

Picture of Cado Icecream (the mint chocolate chip flavor)
  • 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

  • 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!

In Summary: High Calorie Vegan Food

High calorie vegan foods can fit in a vegan meal plan. There are many options that provide important nutrients, contribute to satiety and/or flavor.

Some individuals may want to include more high calorie foods, for example, if they are unintentionally losing weight. Talk to your doctor and Dietitian if you have any questions about your personal nutrition needs.

We hope this article was helpful in identifying calorie dense vegan foods! We want to know: what are your favorite high calorie vegan recipes or high calorie vegan meals? 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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