• Alyssa Fontaine, RD
  • Feb 13, 2024

Exploring High-Calorie Vegan Food

Are you one of the following? 

  • An athlete seeking ways to enhance performance by gaining weight and bulking up? 
  • Someone striving for an aesthetically pleasing body and improved body image? 
  • Attempting to gain weight for health reasons, such as maintaining hormone balance?
  • Gain weight to support your pregnancy and lactation needs?

Our dietitians have heard you loud and clear.

This article is here to guide you on gaining weight as a vegan or plant-based dieter. We’ve also included 15 calorie dense vegan recipes at the end of the article, specially gathered just for you.

Exploring High-Calorie Vegan Food

Plant-based Weight Gaining 101

How to gain weight as a vegan or plant-based dieter?

Typically, you’ll need a plant-based, high-calorie diet that includes a healthy balance of carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats. Developing healthy eating habits, like occasional snacking, can also be beneficial.

The easiest way to determine your personalized weight gain strategy is by consulting one of our dietitians first. Here’s how we’ll assist you:

  • Determine your daily caloric requirements based on your age, gender, activity level, and weight gain goals. Think of it as a frame or a canvas for a painting.
  • Explore, develop and experiment with different caloric dense vegan recipes. Now you are filling the canvas with color and this paint is for you and you only.
  • Track and troubleshoot your weight gain journey. Discover ways of optimizing meal planning, new recipes and ways to spice up your high calorie vegan meals.
  • Supplements like vegan gainers and healthy fats such as algae oil are often encouraged if under professional guidance.

Schedule a discovery call with us and get inspired today.

Weight Gaining Habits You Should Have:

  • Calorie Surplus: Consume more calories than you expend to support weight gain. 
  • Protein Prioritization: Emphasize plant-based protein sources in your meals. 
  • Nutrient-Dense Snacking: Include calorie-rich snacks like nuts and seeds. 
  • Regular Meals: Eat multiple well-balanced meals throughout the day. 
  • Healthy Fats: Incorporate sources like avocados and coconut oil. 
  • Nutrient Monitoring: Keep track of nutrient intake to ensure balance. 
  • Hydration: Stay adequately hydrated between meals. 
  • Mindful Eating: Pay attention to portion sizes and meal timing. 

Reaching your desired physique is a journey that takes time.

Small habits add up to create significant transformations, and having a supportive partner can make a BIG difference. Our dietitians are ideal companions; we can be your diet buddies to support you on this journey starting from today!

What are some bad habits that vegans should be aware of when gaining weight?

  • Over reliance on processed vegan junk food is often accompanied by excessive sugars, unhealthy fats, and preservatives, which may compromise overall health. 
  • Processed vegan foods can be high in sodium, preservatives, and unhealthy additives. Eating too much processed food, even if they were vegan or plant-based, may hurt your health. 
  • Excessive fiber intake causes fullness and digestive discomfort. Skipping meals or going too long without eating may hinder weight gain efforts. 
  • Ignoring protein intake can result in disproportionate gains in fat rather than muscle, making weight gain less effective for health and aesthetics. 

Talk to our dietitians today and find out how you can avoid these bad habits.

Frequently Asked Questions :

What vegetables are high in calories?

Vegetables that are high in carbohydrates and healthy fats are key to increasing calorie intake in your diet. Here’s an overview of caloric dense vegetables perfect for weight gaining:

  • Avocados: about 384 calories per cup
  • Coconut: about 283 calories per cup
  • Plantains: about 180-200 calories per cup
  • Sweet Potatoes: about 180-200 calories per cup
  • Nut & nut butter: about  80-100 calories per tablespoon
  • Butternut Squash: about 80-90 calories per cup
  • Corn: about 130-150 calories per cup
  • Acorn Squash: about 115-125 calories per cup

Disclaimer: Caloric content may vary due to different cooking methods and fiber content. A balanced diet on the three major macronutrients is more preferable than fixating on one type of food.

What are high-calorie-low-volume foods?

Calorie-dense, low-volume foods refer to items that offer a high number of calories while occupying minimal space within your stomach.

Here are a few examples:

  • Nuts and nut butters are calorie-dense and concentrated sources of calories and healthy fats.
  • Raisins, apricots and dates are dried fruits that pack a lot of calories without necessarily filling you up. They are excellent snacks to pack on a few pounds.

Keep these in a zip-lock bag and pack into your backpack or lunch boxes. They are excellent snacks that you can carry around with you at all times.

What are some vegan fat sources?

  • Nuts & Seeds (almonds, seeds like chia seeds, flax seeds) 
  • Avocado Oils (natural oil-rich foods like olive, coconut) 
  • Nut Butters (vegan options like peanut butter, almond butter) 
  • Coconut Products (naturally high fat content foods like coconut milk, shredded coconut)

What role does exercise play in vegan weight gain?

It is the tear and repair of muscle fibers during strength training builds muscle mass. Check out this study.

You would want to gain weight and look healthy and defined rather than packing on weight and throwing off your proportions.

Exercising naturally stimulates your appetite. If you were struggling to eat because of feeling full all the time, this might help you. Additionally, exercise actually helps with your body’s metabolism in a way that fat was consumed and dispensed as energy expenditure.

Besides the physical benefits, exercise is also healthful for your mind. It can alleviate stress and improve mood which also helps with motivation and consistency!

What are some strategies to avoid digestive discomfort while increasing calorie intake?

  • Step-by-step and gradually increase calorie intake to give your digestive system time to adapt. 
  • Fiber Balance: Balance high-fiber foods with lower-fiber options to prevent bloating. 
  • Frequent, Smaller Meals: Frequent meals reduce the strain on your digestive system. 
  • Stay Hydrated: Proper hydration aids digestion.
  • Mindful Food Pairing: Experiment with different food combinations to find what works best for your digestion.

Does being a vegan mean that I am at a disadvantage when it comes to gaining weight?

No. Not really. Vegans are not at a disadvantage when it comes to weight gaining. With proper planning, a vegan diet can support healthy weight gain just like any other dietary pattern.

At the end of the day, changing your body composition is all about calories-in and calories-out. Why not gain weight in a healthy way, the vegan way? 

By being vegan you are also acting against animal cruelty, as well as being environmentally friendly by practicing what you preach.

Exploring High-Calorie Vegan Food menus

Looking to start gaining weight?

Here are 15 recipes to get you started.

Vegan Bagel Sandwich

Serving Size: 1 Bagel

Calories = 648 kcal, Carbohydrates = 89 g, protein = 26 g, fat = 23 g

This vegan bagel sandwich recipe has avocado and tofu in BBQ sauce. These are excellent healthy fats and protein sources.

Paired with creamy dill sauce, and a lot of vegetables can support your weight gaining goals because this recipe is quite caloric dense and plus, nutrient dense.

The carbohydrates in this recipe also sustain your workout needs ! A must try recipe for vegans dieters looking to gain weight.

Source : Yum Vegan Lunch Ideas

Jerk Seitan Chicken

Serving Size: 1/2 recipe

Calories = 502 kcal, Carbohydrates = 54.5 g, protein = 40 g, fat = 12.5 g

This Jerk Seitan Chicken recipe is a Jamaican classic. Tangy and bold, this recipe stimulates your appetite for sure. Seitan, with its meaty texture, offers a substantial source of plant-based protein. 

Additionally, the calorie content of this dish can be adjusted by adding ingredients like coconut milk or serving it with calorie-dense sides like rice or beans. 

Source : Yum Vegan Lunch Ideas

Korean Seitan Sandwich

Serving Size: 1/2 recipe

Calories = 490.5 kcal, Carbohydrates = 71 g, protein = 20.5 g, fat = 20 g

A Korean Seitan Sandwich recipe can support weight gain for vegans through a combination of its delicious and calorie-rich components. 

The tangy and sweet seitan paired with fluffy and crusty bread is an amazing and caloric dense lunch on a Tuesday morning. 

Besides the seitan, vegan kimchi and vegan mayo definitely helps you reach the caloric goal and only adds to the flavor profile of the recipes.

Source : Yum Vegan Lunch Ideas

Vegan Mushroom Stew with Coconut

Serving Size: 1 recipe

Calories = 464 kcal, Carbohydrates = 68 g, protein = 20 g, fat = 13 g

A Vegan Mushroom Stew with Coconut recipe can be a valuable tool for vegans seeking to gain weight for several reasons. The creaminess of the stew combined with the flavorful spics such as curry powder and paprika, totally enhances the taste of this recipe. 

Adding flatbreads or brown rice to the side of this stew adds some more carbohydrates to the meal. Additionally, with the coconut bringing in healthy fats. I can tell this recipe is going to be a fan-favorite weight gaining vegan meal. 

Don’t forget, mushrooms are also a protein source. Proteins, as mentioned earlier in the article, are essential to muscle building and weight gain. All in all, a recommended recipe.

Source : Hurry the Food Up, Dave Bell

Vegan Stuffed Peppers

Serving Size: 1 recipe

Calories = 615 kcal, Carbohydrates = 93 g, protein = 30 g, fat = 18 g

This Vegan Stuffed Peppers recipe can be a valuable addition to a vegan’s diet for weight gain for several reasons. First, the sweet and tasty pepper serves as a wholesome shell for all the goodness that is going to be stuffed. Tempeh is really rich and nutty. Plus, it is an amazing protein source. 

These two combined to support muscle building and weight gain, especially important for vegan athletes . The fajita spice mix really adds to the dish by elevating the flavor profile and stimulating your palate. Nutritional yeast, often used for its cheesy flavor, provides extra calories and nutrients. This makes a wholesome and caloric dense meal.

Source : Hurry the Food Up, Dave Bell

One Pan Mediterranean Couscous Bowl

Serving Size: 1 recipe

Calories = 553 kcal, Carbohydrates = 94 g, protein = 20 g, fat = 13 g

This recipe is my Sunday go-to dish at lunch. Smoky paprika, herbs like rosemary, and capers that add tanginess to the flavor profile and really make this dish a one pan-wonder. This dish was very enjoyable and appetizing for me and my kids because of how flavorful it is. I am sure this dish is going to be helpful if anyone is looking for a high caloric dish for weight gaining. 

Couscous is a starchy carbohydrate that fueled my energy needs during exercise. With the addition of vegetables such as leeks, peppers and cherry tomatoes, this dish is caloric dense. 

If you are looking to spice up this dish with something, drizzling the bowl with a minty yogurt sauce really adds flavor and adds extra calories to the dish.

Source : Hurry the Food Up, Dave Bell

Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes

Serving Size: 5 Pancakes

Calories = 760 kcal, Carbohydrates = 96 g, protein = 14 g, fat = 37 g

A Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookie Pancakes recipe can be a delicious and calorie-rich option for vegans looking to gain weight while maintaining a health-conscious approach. 

These pancakes were made without refined sugar and butter. I am sure this sweet and satisfying recipe is going to be an absolute treat for all the readers out there with a sweet-tooth. Adding oatmeal gave it a hearty texture, while the almond butter and banana added moisture. 

Who doesn’t love chocolate chips? The chocolate chips are just a chef’s kiss to this pancake recipe.

Source : Minimalist Baker

Paleo Granola, chunky granola clusters!

Serving Size: 1/4 cup

Calories = 131 kcal, Carbohydrates = 6.9 g, protein = 2.6 g, fat = 10.2 g

This Paleo Granola recipe is a perfect snacking option for vegans looking to gain weight due to its nutrient-dense ingredients. Not having any refined sugar made this recipe a guilt-free snack for all my readers. 

Nuts, coconut chips are all plant-based healthy fats. Almond flour, maple syrup and cinnamon wonderfully combines into an amazing flavor profile and delivers the fats and carbohydrates for any vegan dieters looking to gain weight. In my opinion, this recipe is easy to make and quite well-rounded. You can add yogurt to it and elevate the entire recipe too.

Source : Beaming Baker, Demeter

Pumpkin Cornbread

Serving Size: 1 large slice 

Calories = 303 kcal, Carbohydrates = 39 g, protein = 5 g, fat = 16 g

This Vegan Pumpkin Cornbread recipe can be a delightful way for vegans to support weight gain with its wholesome ingredients and delicious flavors. The cornbread provided a decent amount of carbohydrates and definitely a staple food for some in their weight-gaining journey. 

Coconut oil is a plant-based oil that adds some calories to this dish. Additionally, adding almond milk and maple syrup really created a buttery and sweet taste. This dish is both calorie-rich and very enjoyable.

Source : Show me the yummy, Trevor and Jennifer

Vegan Katsu Curry

Serving : 1

Calories = 582 kcal, Carbohydrates = 40.1 g, protein = 19.6 g, fat = 39.6 g

Vegan Katsu Curry can be a helpful choice for vegans looking to gain weight due to its combination of calorie-dense ingredients. Tofu, as mentioned earlier, is an excellent protein source. The protein from tofu or soybeans in general, helps with your muscle growth and helps achieve weight gaining goals. 

The creaminess of the coconut curry sauce made from coconut milk, adds a decent amount of healthy fats. Besides being healthy, fats add on to the caloric content of the dish as well. This Japanese-inspired meal not only satisfies taste buds but also provides a hearty and satisfying combination of flavors that can encourage increased food consumption.

Source : Loving it Vegan, Alison Andrews

Classic Baked Vegan Mac and Cheese

Serving size : 1 

Calories = 473 kcal, Carbohydrates = 56 g, protein = 11 g, fat = 21 g

This Classic Baked Vegan Mac and Cheese offers a delightful and calorie-rich option for vegans seeking to gain weight. By replacing traditional cheese with a creamy combination of coconut milk, all purpose flour and vegan cheese. 

To make a rich and satisfying dairy-free sauce, you cannot go without coconut milk. This comforting vegan dish is a great addition to your library of caloric dense recipes. 

Adding Dijon mustard sauce also enhances the taste and adds extra calories. Integrating this fusion dish into a balanced diet can support healthy weight gain for vegans dieters like you.

Source : Loving it Vegan, Alison Andrews

Vegan Cashew Queso

Serving size : 1 recipe

Calories = 214.7 kcal, Carbohydrates = 14.25 g, protein = 10.4 g, fat = 14.5 g

This Vegan Cashew Queso provides a delicious and calorie-rich option for vegans seeking to gain weight. Raw Cashews and nutritional yeast (nooch) are the secret ingredients to replace cheese and to create a creamy texture. Adding turmeric, lime juice, tomatoes, and chili peppers elevates the entire flavor profile and increases caloric consumption. 

This dip is extremely versatile. Use your creativity. You can pair the dip with breadsticks, nachos and other carbohydrate sources. This easy queso recipe can help vegan dieters gain weight and attain their daily caloric goals.

Source : V Nutrition, Mary Ellen

Mongolian Soy Curls

Serving size : 1

Calories = 120 kcal, Carbohydrates = 6 g, protein = 7 g, fat = 6 g

This Mongolian Soy Curls dish can be a valuable option for vegans looking to gain weight due to its flavorful and calorie-dense composition. This recipe uses vegan soy meat to replace beef, which still acts as a protein source used in muscle development and weight gain. 

The recipe has a mix of veggie broth, garlic, and ginger, giving you the usual savory Asian flavor you get from Chinatown. Adding rice or vegetables to the soy curls makes a complete meal. In fact, add the soy curls to any carbohydrates you can come up with; noodles for instance is an excellent option.

Source : V Nutrition, Mary Ellen

Sesame Garlic Ramen Noodles (Vegan & Gluten Free)

Serving size : 1

Calories = 437 kcal, Carbohydrates = 62 g, protein = 12 g, fat = 18 g

Sesame Garlic Ramen Noodles offer an excellent option for vegans seeking to gain weight. Tahini peanut butter sauce gave the dish a creamy taste while also providing healthy fats and proteins. The fats in this dish adds to the overall calories and the proteins are essential for muscle growth. 

The noodles were also gluten-free… for any of my celiac disease readers out there. These noodles combined with veggie broth, tamari, and tahini to create a savory, flavorful yet nutritional dish. Sriracha adds some punch to the dish as well but it’s optional.

Source : V Nutrition, Mary Ellen

Sweet Pumpkin Hummus Dip

Serving size : 1

Calories = 169 kcal, Carbohydrates = 21 g, protein = 6 g, fat = 7 g

This Sweet Pumpkin Hummus Dip can be a delightful and calorie-rich option for vegans aiming to gain weight. This dip is made from chickpeas which means it provides an ample amount of plant-based protein (that’s why you are here reading this). Protein, as mentioned before, supports muscle growth. 

Adding almond butters stacks the calorie count higher because it provides a healthy source of fats. Both fats and proteins are essential for weight gaining for any vegan dieters. The dip is full of fall season colors. 

Because of how versatile it is, trying to incorporate it in desserts or a veggie dish would be excellent choices. Overall, an easy and healthful recipe for weight-gaining purposes.

Source : V Nutrition, Mary Ellen

Exploring High-Calorie Vegan Food menus ideas

Start your weight gaining journey today!

If you’re looking to gain weight through a vegan diet and want to take meaningful steps toward your body image goals, we strongly encourage you to connect with our dedicated team of dietitians today

Our experts are well-equipped to provide you with immediate, personalized guidance based on your unique dietary preferences and objectives. Your current lifestyle, eating habits, and health status are all taken into account during the sessions. Our dietitians can craft a tailored plan that incorporates calorie-dense, vegan-friendly foods and optimal macronutrient balance. Taking action now will put you on the path to a healthier, weight-gaining journey that aligns with your values. 

Don’t wait—reach out to our experienced dietitians today and start your vegan weight gain journey with confidence.

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