19 High Calorie Vegan Foods (+ What To Know From a RDN)

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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 these aren’t just for those who want to gain weight! You’ll also discover an epic list of high calorie vegan foods that go beyond peanut butter and chocolate.

This is a reference you’ll want to refer to over and over again, when someone asks you about calorically dense vegan foods – so don’t forget to bookmark it!

Ready? Let’s dive into the things you should know from a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN).

Disclaimer: This article is only providing education and is not a substitute for medical or dietary advice. Talk to your doctor about health or diet concerns and questions. See our Disclaimers for more details.

This post was originally published on 5/9/22. The updated date is listed above.

graphic showing examples of many High Calorie Vegan Foods, including, nuts, pasta, vegan baked goods, granola and protein bars, dried fruit, oil, avocados, and seeds.

Can Vegan Foods Be Calorie Dense?

Vegan foods can be calorie dense. In fact, there are many! Some examples include avocados, nuts, and oatmeal.

We’ll get the to larger list soon. But first, let’s clear some things up.

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.

If we zoom out and talk about macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein and fats), fat is the most calorically dense.

That’s because for each gram of fat, there are 9 calories. In contrast, carbohydrate or protein only contain 4 calories per gram(1).

This means that fat containing foods tend to pack more calories in a smaller volume than foods that contain primarily protein or carbohydrate.

Still, (as you are about to see when we get to the vegan high calorie foods list), there are many foods with little fat that can be highly concentrated in calories as well in a typical serving.

But before we get to that, let’s answer a common question.

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.

For example, essential omega fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid is more predominant in calorically dense foods, like ground flaxseeds, canola oil, and walnuts(2).

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

Notes about this list: I’m not aware of a set amount of calories for the term “high calorie food.” So, I’ll somewhat arbitrarily define it as having around 150 calories per serving for this article, with exceptions!

For example, not all oils have 150 calories per serving, but because of how concentrated they are in calories for a small amount, they are calorically dense.

This list contains whole and more processed, healthy and less healthy, nutrient dense, and less nutrient dense foods. The calorie counts are approximates and can change, so check the nutrition facts of your product. Obviously, there are many more examples, and this isn’t comprehensive.

Without further ado, here is quick list of 19 high calorie vegan food:

  • Nuts and Nut butters
  • Avocados
  • Potatoes
  • Starchy Grains (Ie: pasta, couscous, quinoa, rice)
  • Oil
  • 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

Nuts and Nut Butters

  • 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).

I love to include nuts and nut butters for as a quick, portable and satisfying snack! With so many varieties it’s hard to get bored.

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!

I enjoy avocados and beans as a tasty spread on bread, but also in more ‘tex-mex’ bowls, or even in a tofu scramble!

Potatoes

picture of a sweet potato on a plate on a wooden table.
  • 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. Saturated and trans fats are fats we want to limit in part, for heart health.

Plant Based 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.
  • Nutrition: Dark chocolate may contain flavanols and important minerals, like iron.

    While chocolate contains saturated fat, the majority is a unique kind (called stearic acid), that some research suggests may have more of a neutral effect on cholesterol (learn more in my article about vegan fats!)

    Fun little tidbit about me: chocolate is one of my favorite indulgences! Check out this review of the brand featured above. ✌

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!

Granola tends to be higher in calories than cereal, and there are a few things you’ll want to check to make sure it’s vegan! Check out my vegan cereal/granola guide to get the scoop (pun intended 😄).

Plant Based Butter/Margarine

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 unhealthy saturated fats. Check the label!

Vegan Ice Cream

Picture of Cado Icecream (the mint chocolate chip flavor)
  • Nutrition: Ice cream is seldom a ‘nutrient dense food,’ so keep that in mind! Check out the ingredients list as brands/varieties vary in nutrition. I’ve tried and enjoyed the Cado ice-cream, and was impressed that the saturated fat was lower than several other popular 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)

That simple banana ‘ice cream’ recipe was something I carved so much after my plant based pregnancy (yes, I had some ‘after pregnancy cravings’ too!😊)

Vegan Protein Powder and Bars

Picture of vega Protein Made Simple Vanilla protein powder.
  • 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 a lot!

Dried Fruit

picture of a jar of Sunsweet Amazin Prunes
  • 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.

Of note, some dried fruit may come with added sugars and fats, like oil. Obviously, this will help ‘up’ the calorie density!

Baked Goods (veganized)

picture of Annies organic flaky biscuits.
  • 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

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).

Coconut Products

  • 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.

Personally, I’m not a big fan of coconut flavor so it’s not a big thing I include anyways! Coconut milk, meat, or oil may be used in several vegan products – such as store-bought vegan ‘cheese.’

Plant Based Dips/Spreads (Ex: Hummus, Cashew “cheese”)

picture of kirkland organic hummus individual container
  • Nutrition: Dips are so much fun and can provide nutrients, like protein from beans and nuts as well as healthy fats.

Plant Based Smoothies

Plant Based Burgers

picture of a package of impossible burger patties.
  • 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 certainly 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.

If you need to add extra calories as a vegan, some easy ways include (not a comprehensive list):

  • Adding oil to your veggies, and cooked grain and legume dishes
  • Topping a breakfast bowl with nuts, seeds, and dried fruit
  • Pairing fruits and veggies with a calorically dense dip (ex: cashew ‘cheese’ and veggies, fruit and vegan yogurt dip).
  • Drizzling oil over lower calorie foods like plain popcorn.
  • Toping fruits with nuts, seeds, and/or some nut/seed butter.

I hope this article was helpful and that you now know these foods are not only for vegans on a weight gain diet! Do you have any favorite high calorie vegan recipes or meal ideas? Let me know in the comment below!
 Want to learn more about veganism and keep up with Plant Powered You’s new articles and podcast episodes?

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