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  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. And check out the other videos on omnivores, flexitarians, vegetarians, and vegans. Also, there are 1,449 other subjects covered in the rest of my videos–please feel free to explore them as well!

  • Novecento

    In my opinion this huge gap in weight between vegans and meat eaters can be explained with junk food.

    Although there may be vegans eating pasta and chips, most of them eat an abundance of whole foods including fresh vegetables and whole grains (the majority of which not from wheat).

    The majority of meat eaters are also junk food eaters, having plenty of refined wheat flour and sweets, a cause of excessive weight more than meat itself. The quality of their meat is also low and very high in fat.

    So if we were to compare veganism with a diet full of whole foods including a moderate amount of lean meats and fish, I think the average weight of the two groups would be very similar.

    • although, you do have a point, do you believe that flexitarians and vegetarians also eat more junk food than vegans?  these people also care about their diet.  why is there a difference between the average weights of flexitarians and vegetarians?  this difference between their diets is only a small amount of meat.

      • Alia XxX

        I think vegetarians and flexitarians are more interested or more addicted to food than vegans. It is not easy to give up dairy products, not easy. And in my personal opinion a vegan is someone who is dedicated to their diet for various reasons and they will not step wrongly. For a vegetarian and/or a flexitarian it might be easier to eat not necessary junk food but foods that can make fat deposit? It is just a guess.

        • Simon

          Full fat dairy has been shown to have a negative correlation with obesity. More likely it is that Vegans are more obsessive over health.

      • Cleo Thompson

        Heather: I would start with a disclaimer to the effect that BMI is a precise enough measure for large scale screenings, but it’s far from perfect for assessing health on an individual level. That out of the way, it’s extremely difficult for a raw-food vegan or a vegan that avoids processed foods to overeat, and their body composition tends to be a reflection of calorie-restricted dieters. It could easily be the case that flexitarians and vegetarians are simply more muscular. Anyway, my point being that there’s no way for us to know what the difference is because all we have is BMI.

    • Jay

      Eating meat shifts the ratio of gut bacteria. With increased meat consumption, the ratio of Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes in the intestines increases. This causes weight gain. Meat consumption also changes the ratio of other bacteria in the body that typically causes weight gain.

      • Patrik Floding

        Apetite is driven by a need for energy. So let’s examine the claims:

        “In studies conducted on mice, the guts of obese mice had higher
        levels of firmicutes and lower levels of bacteroidetes. In normal mice,
        the opposite was true. Transplanting the gut bacteria from obese mice to
        normal mice caused the normal mice to gain weight.

        By analyzing mice poop, scientists reached the conclusion that
        firmicutes are better at extracting energy from food when compared to
        bacteroidetes. This means that if you have a strong firmicutes
        population in your gut, more of your food will be converted to energy
        (calories) for the body to use or store as fat.”

        Extracting more energy is a GOOD THING. Wasting food is bad.
        Feeling sated when you have eaten enough for your needs is the key to not becoming obese.

        If you don’t feel sated when eating starchy food, then you eat too much.
        If fatty foods (with very low or no carbs) makes you sated, then this will help you eat fewer calories.

        This is why a correct Atkins works. Any cheating by combining Atkins with carbs (sugary drinks, for example), will not work.

        Sugar INCREASES apetite in a majority of people. The reason is that our insulin production is not adapted to refined carbs. Human beings cannot evolve at the rate the food industry has evolved. There is no adaption possible in 50-70 years (depending on where on the globe you live).

        The only adaption we can do is to change our food, and cut out all the processed junk. Even the vegans here can probably agree with that.

        • Rami Najjar

          Please see the video I had linked you to previously regarding studies with fruit and metabolic syndrome. Avoiding fruit with diabetes turns out to be harmful.

      • Simon

        It certainly affects gut bacteria, but there are plenty of high meat keto dieters loosing weight. It must be something else.

    • Israel Navas Duran

      You seem to be obsessed with wheat. I can’t remember of any of Dr Greger’s videos in which he stated that wheat was a particularly unhealthy food. You may know that not everyone is a celiac (between 0.2 and 1% of the US population), and there are other cereals like barley and rye that celiacs must avoid. As for gluten sensitivity, according to some sources is about 5% of the population, and I bet that it’s concentrated among those with poor dietary and lifestyle habits.

      • David

        Wheat is my favourite calorie-dense source (being raised in Italy may have played a factor), also when whole. So I hope you are right, but I will look for Dr Greger’s videos on wheat just in case ;)

      • k

        Wheat is only healthy if it is organic, these days the non-organic wheat is generally GMO and full of pesticides, which is why it makes so many sick.

    • Patrik Floding

      “In my opinion this huge gap in weight between vegans and meat eaters can be explained with junk food.”

      Of course, we are comparing one group, the Vegans, who are extremely concious about what they are eating and have a clear goal to be healthy and maintain the correct weight, with another group that consists of “everyone else who can’t be bothered”.

      It would be amazing, and embarrassing, if the vegans wouldn’t come out on top in that comparison.

      • Simon Holland

        Completely agree. Comparing vegans or any group that demonstrates concern for health with the general population seems like it would achieve the same results.

    • John Moser

      It’s from too much intake. Vegan and vegetarian diets are low-quality, nutrient-deficient diets. How many times have you heard someone with a meat-heavy diet talk about all the special combinations of foods he has to eat to avoid a lack of Vitamin D?

      Plants give you one great thing: Vitamin C. Vitamin C is fantastic. You need very little Vitamin C to survive; however, you can store and use large amounts of Vitamin C. Your body requires it to produce stable collagen or else your skin falls apart; your brain uses it to control prolactin and produce catecholons like dopamine and norepinephrine; and Vitamin C can convert blood-plasma lead and mercury to lead ascorbate and mercury ascorbate, allowing the liver to ship them into bile and clear them from your body. Vitamin C is a powerful free-radical scavenger, yet it has a low electrical potential even after giving up two electrons: it can neutralize a highly-reactive, damaging free-radical without itself becoming a free radical.

      Other than that, various plant diet foods are somewhat more-sufficient per-calorie than meats for various vitamins and minerals. There’s a problem here: Pineapple might have about twice as much magnesium per 100kcal than a McDonalds hamburger, but your diet isn’t 100% pineapple; the next fruit might be good for Zinc, but Mg-deficient. That means a balanced, complete, plant-sourced diet will have nutrient deficiency problems, because food that’s a good source of any particular nutrient has to be 1/10 of your diet.

      Meanwhile, meats are a much better source of vitamins A, B, D, E, and K; the best dietary source of sulfur, silicon, iron, and zinc; and a fair source of other minerals such as magnesium and even potassium. If you want calcium and iodine, you need sea-sourced foods–either fish and shellfish or seaweed, meaning even your vegan diet requires food from the sea. It’s difficult to get inadequate intake of a broad array of vitamins, minerals, or amino acids when eating beef or poultry, and adding seafood in even small quantities quickly rounds out your diet.

      Fats are required to carry most vitamins, notably D, E, and K, and a diet without fat intake timed with fat-soluble vitamin intake will experience less than half the bioavailability (your body doesn’t absorb the vitamins).

      Further, vitamins aren’t simply chemicals; they refer to chemicals which your body can use for specific, life-supporting biological processes. That is to say: “Vitamin A” refers to a set of chemicals your body can use to carry out a specific set of biological functions. Interestingly enough, 600 IU of the much-touted Beta-Carotine vitamer from food provides as much Vitamin A function as 1,200 IU of alpha-carotine or beta-cryptoxanthin–it’s twice as effective, and you need half as much of it. Beta-Carotine supplements–stripped away from the fruits and vegetables and placed into pills–provides the same nutritional value at only 200 IU, three times as much. Preformed Vitamin A, found as Retinols in meat, provides the same Vitamin A nutritional value at only 100 IU–it’s six times as strong as Beta-Carotine from your healthy fruits and vegetables, and twice as strong as Beta-Carotine pills.

      In other words: you need 900mcg Vitamin A. That’s either 3,000 IU of Vitamin A from meat, or 18,000 IU of Vitamin A from fruits and vegetables. That’s common between meat and plant vitamers: meat-sourced vitamins are extremely-high-quality, and plant-sourced ones are garbage. It varies some by species, too–cats can’t actually use any plant-source Vitamin A; and a lot of 100% vegetarian food has B12 listed because B12 content is measured from BACTERIA B12 activity, and the form of B12 in plants is not usable by humans (i.e. it has zero B12 if you’re a human, but a considerable amount of B12 if you’re e.coli).

      The weird part of all this is a Vegan diet is frequently filled with deficiencies the body can sort-of handle; while a 100% fast-food diet kept in check and away from soda and french fries (i.e. not a 4,000-calorie diet) is actually a high-quality, healthy diet.

      • Thea

        John Moser: Your claims are not backed by the evidence. Time and again, on measure after measure, people who eat a diet primarily of whole plant foods come out on top compared to people who eat any significant amount of meat, dairy or eggs. This page that you are commenting on is just one example. Did you actually watch the video?
        .
        Here is a short video which compares deficiencies in human omnivore to vegan diets: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/omnivore-vs-vegan-nutrient-deficiencies-2/
        .
        Here is a short video which explains the diet of the longest and healthiest lived people on the planet: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/the-okinawa-diet-living-to-100/
        .
        There are literally over a thousand such videos on this site, each one showing that your claims are wrong in one way or another. You can click the ‘sources cited’ button for the links to the studies if you want to follow up. For a good beginning overview of the data, check out Dr. Greger’s latest summary talk: Preventing, Arresting and Reversing Our Top 15 Killers: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/how-not-to-die

        • Thea

          John Moser: I just remembered another video that is specifically relevant to your concerns. The following NutritionFacts video directly addresses the concept of nutrient density: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/eating-healthy-on-a-budget/ It starts out talking about cost, but it gets into the nutrient density concept at the end.

          • John Moser

            Yes but NutritionFacts isn’t a “nutrition” site; it’s a “fruits and vegetables are healthy!” organization that leans toward an ideal in opposition of real evidence. It’s basically Joseph Mercola on food.

            I’ve actually looked at nutrition density in foods and discovered something interesting: specific fruits and vegetables are high in specific nutrients, and deficient in others; while meats and eggs are moderate in most nutrients, and fairly even. That means you can point out *a* food and say it’s high in magnesium or B9, but it’s not a particularly-decent source of much else; and when you mix all the “high in X” foods together, you fraction down those nutrients until you have relatively-low to middle-ground intake of various nutrients.

            Animal-source foods tend to be middle-ground to upper-middle-ground on nutrients, and a mixed diet that’s very meat-heavy tends to come out even with or slightly-better than a plant-heavy diet. The nutritional quality of animal-source food and the deficiencies in all-animal-source diets are so limited that any mixed diet tends to fill in Vitamin C and E immediately, giving an instantly-balanced diet. The effect is so striking that even fast food provides decent nutritional intake, so long as you don’t eat a ton of calories–and you’re going to want to skip the soda (480kcal from sugar!) and french fries (nutrient-deficient potato, and still 500kcal tacked onto the end of your meal).

            Funny enough, that’s not my observation: studies into fast-food diets have been done, and the common conclusion is FRENCH FRIES IS THE DEVIL, BOBBY!

        • John Moser

          The evidence is mainly that people with meat-heavy, unmanaged diets GET FAT AND DEVELOP DIABEETUS, but don’t develop pellegra or other deficiency diseases. People with meat-heavy diets that don’t consume excess calories don’t get fat, and also don’t develop deficiency diseases. Meanwhile, people on vegan diets must actively exercise dietary behaviors to include all the nutrients they need or else they get deficiencies.

          Scientific studies have suggested time and again that vegans and vegetarians are largely more-conscious of their diets and, thus, the successful vegans and vegetarians are health-conscious individuals, analogous to meat-heavy dieters who actually pay attention to how much they’re eating and get decent exercise. That is: vegetarians aren’t healthier because vegetables are healthy; they’re healthier because they’re TRYING to be healthier.

          Oh, and an estimated 75%-95% of vegetarians and vegans quit the diet because they get sick due to deficiencies. I don’t know if I believe the 95% high-water mark; somebody probably did some bad statistics there–the same kind of bad statistics that takes all these highly-fitness-conscious, dedicated vegetarians who modified their diets for their health and shows that they’re healthier than people who aren’t health-conscious, and concludes the two groups must not be doing anything different about their health, such as consuming a different number of calories, engaging in more physical activity, or seeing the doctor more-often.

          Your video comparing deficiencies claims that meat diets are deficient in the following: Magnesium, calcium, fiber, folate, iodine, vitamin C, and Vitamin E. As I explained above:

          – It’s funny Calcium is listed as deficient for both groups. That suggests a poor current understanding of nutrition, since people aren’t walking around with calcium-deficiency problems.

          – CERTAIN PLANTS have a higher per-calorie value of Magnesium or Calcium than foods in meat-diets; however, they will make up less of your diet. In other words: you’ll get 40mg of Magnesium from 100kcal of beans, and your other foodstuffs will be deficient; overall, your variety Vegan diet contains about 18-22mg/100kcal. Omnivore diets contain foods mainly hovering around 25-35mg, with several foods (notably plant-sourced starches and leafy green vegetables) coming in lower, and tend to contain 20-25mg/100kcal overall. It’s a wash.

          – “Folate” is a B9-group vitamin, which includes Folate and Folic Acid. Red meat provides a number of B vitamins in sufficient quantity: thiamin (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), pantothenic acid, folic acid, niacin (vitamin B3), B6, and B12.

          – Vitamin E is largely found in cooking oils, as well as (of all things) butter. Vitamin E is fat-soluble and highly-effective: it’s present in butter, fish, peanuts, and broccoli in low concentrations, but only 15mg/day is sufficient. Olive oil, canola oil, and sunflower oil contain quite a lot; eggs are also a source. Oddly enough, there’s a lot of canola oil in junk food; but that shouldn’t be a primary dietary source. Vitamin E is easy to miss on a monodiet, but difficult to miss on an omnivorous diet–even a meat-heavy one, because the toppings on your cheeseburger convey a significant amount of Vitamin E.

          – Magnesium, Calcium, and Iodine are in seafood. Fish and shellfish are known to be the best sources of calcium and iodine. That is: meat from the sea is your primary iodine source, and is a better calcium source than broccoli.

          I already covered Vitamin C as being pretty much the main important nutrient present only in plant food sources. I didn’t cover fiber because people will start with something about “keeping regular”, at which point I’ll point out that nobody ever asked that question about fiber–until 2013. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3435786/ Then, people will start making wild health claims about fiber lowering cholesterol as if to imply that not having fiber means you can’t regulate cholesterol and have heart attacks.

          Fiber deficiency is harmless, as fiber isn’t an essential nutrient; fiber over-intake, on the other hand, causes digestive upset including bloating and constipation. What you want in your diet is RESISTANT STARCH, which you might want sweet potato or, if you can get it, the yam species “lesser yam”, which contains more RS than digestible starch. RS feeds important microflora in your gut and improves gut bacteria action; some fiber is consumed by gut bacteria, but doesn’t particularly help any more than sugar or regular starches.

          By the way, SILICON is most-present in meats, and is required for strong bones. Plant-based diets are silicon-deficient.

          You’re throwing bad science at me. You’re using a lot of self-selection bias and outright-incorrect dogma instead of looking at facts and separating confounding from statistics. I’m looking at actual science, at dietary intakes, and at the behaviors between different groups. I’m not arguing from an ideal and pointing to anecdote while excluding other anecdote; I’m arguing FROM EVIDENCE.

          • Thea

            To make claims like you continue to make, you need to back them with data. 75-95% quit because they get sick? I’ve never seen that in a study… Did you look at the video on deficiencies?
            .
            Again, if your claim had any validity at all, the data and actual experiences of populations would be different. Check out the video I referenced for you on the traditional Okinawa diet. Less than 5% of that diet was animal products. 85% of that diet was carbohydrates, primarily from sweet potatoes. And they live a very long, very healthy life.
            .
            Your claims are not supported by the real experiences of real people.

          • John Moser

            Looks like I’ll have to review that. … and I’m actually off by quite a bit! It’s 75%-95% of Vegetarian-Vegans quit, with the common current number being 84%.

            tl;dr: over half of those quit for self-reported health issues or for issues with cravings. Apparently “Cravings” include “feeling hungry all the time”; I would have put that under “Health Issues”, because that hunger is related to pica, where you keep eating things (usually non-food things) due to a dietary deficiency. If you’re borderline-deficient in a vitamin or mineral, your body will respond to it when you eat foods containing it, and then demand you eat more–hence eternal hunger, whether it’s hunger for long-lost bacon or for 40 more pounds of broccoli in a desperate bid for iron and magnesium (both low in broccoli, which actually has a lot of Vitamin C, but is a low-quality source of Vitamin A and a weak source of calcium as well).

            https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/animals-and-us/201412/84-vegetarians-and-vegans-return-meat-why “84% of vegetarians and vegans return to meat. Why?” Let’s see.

            “I told my mom and dad that my decision was based on animal welfare and the high carbon footprint of meat. But the truth is that while I theoretically cared about animals and the planet, mostly I just wanted to be different.”

            Okay, so she quit because she wasn’t really into it in the first place, and was just going through a rebellious–

            “for the next 17 years, it seemed like I was always hungry no matter how large my bowl of beans and rice. Even worse than constant hunger, I didn’t seem to enjoy food the way other people did. Eating was a chore, like folding laundry or paying bills, but even more annoying because if I didn’t do it I would die. I was sick of being hungry, I was sick of beans and rice, and so at the age of 31, I have made a decision: I will try and become a meat-eater.”

            Oh, she quit because she was unable to satisfy her endless hunger. That’s common among vegans, yeah. It’s related to pica, where people eat non-food due to a (typically-harmless) nutritional deficiency; vegans often eat lots and lots and lots of food because their body is detecting a lack of adequate nutrition, and the food they eat has the things they need–just not enough of those things.

            Looks like the bulk of studies conclude around 83% of Vegetarians and Vegans quit their diet–86% of Vegetarians ditch, but only 70% of Vegans. Of those, 43% report difficulty retaining “purity”, and 29% self-report a health problem; that leaves a 28% gap. That leaves a few odd points I need to research better:

            * Do self-reported health problems include “Being hungry all the time”? I perceive an inability to satiate as a health problem; I imagine many people would not consider it a health problem.

            * What is difficulty retaining “purity”? Are these people eating meat semi-frequently and, thus, avoiding any deficiencies, up until they abandon the diet in shame?

            How about another look from 2011?

            https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/animals-and-us/201106/why-do-most-vegetarians-go-back-eating-meat

            Reasons vegetarians resume meat-eating, circa 2011: 35% health, 18% cravings. 53%. The remainder are hassle (25%) and social (15%), as well as a change in ethics.

            “About one in five of our participants had developed an irresistible urge to taste cooked flesh once more. This occurred even among some long-term vegetarians. Participants talked about their protein cravings or how the smell of sizzling bacon would drive them crazy. One, for example, said ‘I just felt hungry all the time and that hunger would not be satisfied unless I ate meat.'”

            Even most vegans and vegetarians who quit the diet for any reason–hassle, social pressure, or just a change in ethical concerns–experience a surge in health after they re-incorporate meat. People with only minor, non-health-threatening deficiencies suddenly have more energy and stronger immune systems when those deficiencies are fixed: they didn’t feel sick and lethargic before, but now the world is a whole new place with a whole lot more dopamine singing in their brains. Even scientists like to look at the obvious–people who quit for feeling sick–but we need to look at the whole, not just what shows the most striking outcomes or supports our views best. Weak arguments and small effects might be hard to defend in debate, but they’re still important information that lets us understand what’s really going on; you can’t understand the world if you’re only interested in delivering a crushing blow to those who disagree with you.

            It’s surprising what an omnivore diet will do to a long-standing vegetarian. It’s one of medicine’s modern miracles: vegetarianism and veganism are diseases which are treated more-successfully than any other disease in history.

  • ed

    Makes sense to me.  18 months ago I went vegetarian at 240#.  I also dramatically reduced my consumption of dairy and eggs but not cheese or Greek yogurt. So I can’t quite claim Vegan.  Today I weight 190# which is my ideal weight.

    • Michael Greger M.D.

       That’s fantastic–congratulations!

  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Please also check out my associated blog post, Poultry and Penis Cancer!

  • Liakay00

    I agree with some of the others – it may be that junk food is accounting for a lot of the difference in weight. It might be that vegans are more careful about what they eat (especially the ones who’re vegan for health reasons). Or that there is way less junk food that has no animal products in it, and so less opportunity to eat junk.

    This is especially true when eating out. Even the vegetarian options have animal products all over it (like butter, cheese, etc.). And with a lot of Americans eating out a lot, and very few vegan options on average, I bet a lot of vegans make homemade meals a lot of the time. I mean, we can’t even eat ramen in a cup. And you can only consume so much rice and pasta before you’re re really full.

  • Liakay00

    Oops, I hadn’t finished.

    But, this is a very interesting study and I do think that being vegan has health benefits. I’m a vegan mostly because of how animals are treated, but I really like the healthy side effects.

  • This study is very inspiring. I became vegan only a week ago, but I’m really worried, because I’m already borderline ‘underweight’ and am really trying to build up to a healthier weight and keep it there. With the food options being so healthy and fat-free, is that even a realistic goal, do you think?

    • A healthy vegan diet (lots of greens & raw plant based foods – no junk) will get you to a healthy weight. If you think you look too skinny then  go to the gym and pump some weights.  You will have so much more energy as a vegan it becomes easy. There are many professional body builders who are vegan… nuf said.

      • I wasn’t sure if having fewer sources of protein would stunt it, since so many ‘muscle builder’ drinks have milk based solutions in them, but that’s a really good point about the extra energy… After some research, I find alot of footballers are surprisingly vegan and, like you mentioned, body builders. Thanks very much for the feedback, sir!!

    • Toxins

      All whole plant foods contain a mix of all fats, so these foods are not fat free, but low in fat. Try to consume starch based meals, as these tend to be calorie dense, nutrient dense and quite satiating. Starches include brown rice, quinoa, wheat, beans, oats, corn, potatoes, etc.

      • Patrik Floding

        Yes, eat starches if you want to become fat.
        Eat fat if you want to slim down.

        • Rami Najjar

          This opinion against several metabolic studies, including this one.

          This study looked at either fat overfeeding or carbohydrate over feeding.
          They fed participants 50% over what their caloric needs were for several
          days in a controlled environment. The carbohydrates were more readily
          used for metabolism than was fat. 75-85% of excess carbs was stored as
          fat while 90-95% of fat was stored as fat. Thus, the people being fed
          excess fat gained more weight than those eating excess carbohydrates.
          http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/62/1/19.long

          • Yeah…. The body is SUPPOSED to regulate calorie intake. For all those with metabolic syndrome, this regulation doesn’t work. Since this seem to be The case for perhaps 2/3 of the population, the only real solution is to remove the cause of this broken self-regulation: Carbs.
            The study you mentioned is meaningless in this context.

          • Rami Najjar

            Patrik,
            Please see the videos I linked you to in regards to insulin resistance. They will provide valuable insights for you.

          • Rami Najjar

            Also note that the study looked at obese men and found the same thing.

    • Carol Wexler

      Eat plenty of plant foods which contain fat like avocados, nuts and seeds. Roasted pumpkin seeds are fabulous as is or sprinkled over grains.

    • barrhon

      a vegan diet doesn’t automatically make it fat-free!
      here’s a short article on some healthy fats to help build muscle:
      http://www.vincedelmontefitness.com/blog/5231/5-best-fat-muscle-building-foods-you-cant-grow-without/

    • Ann

      Might be worth consulting with a vegan-friendly nutritionist if you’re unsure. Body weight is only one parameter, so other things to consider would be healthy muscle mass (as mentioned), your unique body size & type, making sure you’re eating a diet that includes all needed nutrients in adequate amounts, and limiting or eliminating nutrient-poor food until you feel confident you are in good health. There are now many vegan junk and processed foods on the market, enabling anyone to eat crap and still be vegan. Thoughtful nutrition will see you home. :-)

  • i went vegan in 2007 after reading dr. neal barnard’s new book on reversing diabetes.  he said to go ‘cold turkey’ for 3 weeks to see how you felt and how your blood sugar numbers changed.  i eliminated eggs and dairy and poultry and the little red meat & fish i ate.  i lost 5 pounds.  over the next 2 months i dropped another 20 pounds, just by a vegan diet.  i still have a bunch more weight to lose, but my blood sugar is near normal now.  i say i’m ‘95% vegan’ as i do cheat occasionally when eating out.  so i’d call myself an overweight vegan.

  • Jacks

    Weight gain is more about amount of calories consumed, than whether the calories are from meat or veg. Vegans tend to be quite self disciplined, it goes with the territory, they restrict themselves rather than just satisfying their basic appetites. To my mind that is why there is a difference in BMIs amongst the groups.

    • Ana

      I know this comment was written several months ago, but I feel compelled to respond. I am a vegan who eats a lot of high fat plant foods: nuts, seeds and avocados, all in the same day. I never worry about calories or portion size, and I am at my ideal weight.. I don’t credit self-discipline at all. I’m just making better choices about where I get my fats and the type of foods I eat (yes, plants!). When I ate meat (many moons ago), I was constantly fighting the battle of the bulge. No matter what I tried — cutting back, counting calories — nothing helped. I would watch the pounds creep back like clockwork. Now I don’t even have to think about it. I just stick to a plant-based diet, and my body takes care of the rest. I am more slender, healthier and much happier. Yet, I still lack self-discipline. Go figure.

      • Nicki

        I am also a vegan (for 2 years) who eats high fat plant foods as well- and anything else I want to eat. Compared to my previous non-vegan diet I now eat a greater variety of foods and feel very liberated and excited about eating, not restricted in anyway. I have no desire to eat animal products and would definitely disagree with the point about not satisfying my basic appetite. I eat however much I want, without restrictions and I still weight the same amount that I did 10 years ago in high school.

        • smartgirl

          Yep, me too! Vegan a year & a half now, it’s so nice to not have to be “disciplined” (as I always had to be when I ate dairy & a little chicken & fish). I went vegan for the animals, but the tremendous improvement in health & naturally keeping weight off has been a wonderful bonus! Vegan food is just healthier in general. As long as you don’t resort to eating potato chips all day long, you can still have your treats & “junk” once in awhile with no need to worry about weight gain… just one of the MANY benefits of going vegan! :)

      • Simon Holland

        Completely agree, I went on a high fat diet and lost 16kg in six months with no exercise. I didn’t give up meat though I gave up fruit instead and ate more vegetables and only fatty meat, nothing lean.

  • Great video… I just found this one, but I went on a 100% vegan diet in early Dec. 2010, about the time this video came out. Since then, I’ve run 50 miles and completed a full iron distance triathlon workout on my 50th birthday. Worth noting… it’s been over 7 years since I did a ten day master cleanse fast and cut way back on dairy, and I’ve not been sick even once since then. No need to see the doctor, no antibiotics in that time. Weight management has been far easier on the all vegan diet started in Dec. 2010. I’ve finally ditched the cholesterol medication as well of course.

  • Robin Petersson

    What about people on Atkins-like diets?

    • The people on the Atkins-like diet are actually sicker when all factors considered… more diabetes, higher cholesterol. For more information you can see… http://nutritionfacts.org/video/atkins-diet-trouble-keeping-it-up/ or read Dr. Greger’s book, Carbophobia. The low carb diet is not consistent with our anatomy or physiology as hind-gut fermenting herbivores who have evolved to eat starch with more amylase genes and a 40% larger small intestine than our great ape relatives. Eat consistent with your design and you will be healthier. A varied Whole Food plant based diet centered on starches plus Vitamin B12.

      • Patrik Floding

        Never heard that people on a proper Atkins diet are sicker. The real test, of course, is if they were sicker before going on the diet. Not a comparison with some average people, since mostly people who are already suffering tend to try to switch diet.

        Note: Today’s “Atkins” packaged products are mostly pure garbage. Just do a proper Atkins diet from the original instructions -no prefab garbage.

  • Mike Quinoa

    I love the comedic element in your delivery, Dr. Greger. That “lazy vegans” quip just cracked me up.

  • Captain Michael

    Can you please show me that humans are herbivorous, Thanks doc :)

  • Kat

    Dear Dr. Greger,

    I would really appreciate if I could ask a few questions for a school essay. My topic is ‘Is the vegan diet healthy?” I would love your opinion!

    1. Are you vegan/vegetarian? If so, why?

    2. What are the negative affects of consuming eggs?

    3. Do you believe supplementing is necessary on a vegan lifestyle?

    4. Can eating too many vegetables or fruits be harmful?

    Thank you so much for your time, I hope to receive a respond.

    Sincerely,

    Kat

    • Toxins

      Here is a write up on eggs.

      Eggs are considered good sources of lutein and omega 3 and an excellent source of protein. For these reasons, they are considered health foods. I am going to present the real science behind eggs showing that this is false. Firstly, chickens only have lutein due to the fact that they have a varietized feed, these nutrients are not inherent of eggs. A spoonful of spinach has as much lutein as 9 eggs. We cannot really consider eggs an appropriate source of this nutrient. As for protein, all whole foods are complete sources of protein so this statement to its benefits is insignificant. Energy needs satisfy energy expenditures which is equivalent to protein needs. As long as you eat whole plant foods when your hungry till your full, then your getting enough protein.

      Regarding Omega 3, current levels of omega 3 in eggs are highly inadequate and one must consume around 30 eggs to reach an acceptable level of omega 3 for the day. A male needs around 1.6 grams of omega 3 per day, a female needs around 1.1 grams a day. Omega 3 processes to EPA which is also processed to DHA, which is highly anti inflammatory. Omega 6 processes down to arachadonic acid which is highly inflammatory. The fact that eggs are the top source of arachadonic acid nulls and voids benefits received from the omega 3 in the egg itself. High intake of arachadonic acid is linked to autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, as well as a clear link with cancer development.

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=20950616%5Buid%5D

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18774339

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21139128

      The Harvard physicians study followed 20,000 doctors for 20 years and those that ate just one egg a day had significant increase in all cause mortality.

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18400720

      In fact, David Spence, director of stroke prevention/atherosclerosis research center and one of the worlds leading stroke experts, said that based on the latest research, you can eat all the eggs you want IF your dying of a terminal illness. Eggs are not considered health promoting nutritionally speaking.

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18400699

      Eggs have been linked with heart failure

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18954578

      As well as type 2 diabetes.

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2628696/?tool=pubmed

      Furthermore, in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology, David Spence, David Jenkins (the inventor of the glycemic index) and Jean Davignon (director of atherosclerosis research group) posted a review on eggs claiming that the egg industry has been downplaying the health risks of eggs through misleading advertisements. As soon as you eat one egg, you expose your body to several hours worth of oxidative stress, inflammation of ones arteries, endothelieum impairment (what keeps you blood running smoothly) and increases the susceptibility of LDL cholesterol to oxidize (beginning stages of heart disease).

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21076725

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9001684

      The egg industry has claimed that cholesterol from eggs is not important and does not raise cholesterol levels. The fundamental flaw in the study the egg industry has used to make this claim is that they measured FASTING lipid levels at night and not levels through out the day after egg consumption. “Diet is not all about fasting lipids; it is mainly about the three-quarters of the day that we are in the nonfasting state. Fasting lipids can be thought of as a baseline; they show what the endothelium was exposed to for the last few hours of the night.”

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2989358/?tool=pubmed

      A single egg yolk contains approximately 215 to 275 mg of cholesterol. A safe upper limit can be capped at 200 mg if one is looking to prevent heart disease. One egg far exceeds this daily upper limit.

      In regards to egg whites, although true they are a good source of protein, this is possibly the only positive statement that can be made of it. Here is some evidence of a major component of egg whites, Methionine, possibly causing human harm.

      1. Egg whites are high in the amino Acid Methionine. Rice has 14 times less of this amino acid and beans 7 time less. When one consumes Methionine in a large quantity (like that found in egg whites), it is broken down into sulfuric compounds. these sulfuric compounds are buffered by the calcium of the bones. the result, over time, is osteoporosis and kidney stones.

      http://www.vivalis.si/literatura/6a00.pdf

      2. Cancer cell metabolism is dependent upon methionine being present in the diet; whereas normal cells can grow on a methionine-free

      diet feeding off other sulfur-containing amino acids.

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14585259

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12416254

      3. Insulin like growth factor is raised significantly by Methionine. raised levels of IGF-1 = accelerated aging/tumor promotion.

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12176673

      http://jnci.oxfordjournals.org/content/92/18/1472.abstract

      4. Sulfur from Methionine is known to be toxic to the tissues of the intestine, and to have harmful effects on the human colon, even at low levels, possibly causing ulcerative colitis.

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9448181

      http://jnci.oxfordjournals.org/content/82/11/950.abstract

      The only supplements Dr. Greger recommends are vitamin b12 and vitamin D.
      You can have too much vegetables in some cases, but not practically. After consuming 100 cups of broccoli in a day DNA damage has been shown to occur, but who would eat this amount in a day?

      • Patrik Floding

        Believe what you want, but you don’t seem to try to see through the haze of bad science.
        “The Harvard physicians study followed 20,000 doctors for 20 years and
        those that ate just one egg a day had significant increase in all cause
        mortality.”

        OK.. So, did they correct for the fact that most egg-eaters in this particular study were people who ignored many health-hazards, wheras those who avoided eggs were also generally more health-consious? (Presumably they at least corrected for smoking?)

        I somehow doubt they corrected fully for this effect.
        BTW, “significant” in scientific terms only means that the statistics are showing a correlation beyond what random influences might cause. Not that it is a “dramatic” effect -like “significant” means in normal parlance.

        • Rami Najjar

          I understand statistical significance, actually. As I stated in my earlier post, remove the low carb lens. I recommend viewing the studies more critically and less dismissively. “What can we learn from them?”, not “how can we throw it away”. In addition to the other studies shared, eggs cause endothelial dysfunction immediately after consumption, how can we call this healthy?

          Both the egg group and sausage and cheese group caused endothelial dysfunction, a sign of inflammation. The egg substitute group did not experience this arterial impairment. the difference between the substitute and the eggs themselves was the removal of fat and cholesterol.

          http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2904713/#!po=43.1818

          • Patrik Floding

            “I understand statistical significance, actually”

            Of course you do. But do most people? It sounds dramatic, and is often used to unwarranted dramatic effect in popular science.

            Look, you can prove almost anything with a study. First I ask who payed for the study. Then I ask what kind of people did the study (what prior bias did they have, and what are they trying to prove).

            Personally I study reality, not studies. In REALITY we are getting fatter and fatter the more refined carbs are available to us.

            The delayed fat explosion in the UK vs. US is due to the slightly delayed availability of junk food stuffed with sugars.

            The delayed, and diminished hopefully, fat explosion in countries in Scandinavia vs the UK, would be due to the delayed introduction of junk food loaded with sugars in those countries.
            (The tendency to rely on ready-made meals in Scandinavia is at least 20 years behind this trend in the UK.)

            Home cooked food, on the other hand, has traditionally always offered plenty of fat. But not a lot of sugar. Sugar was for deserts.

            Now, with “healthy choices” where the junk food has had fat removed and replaced with even more sugar, things can only get worse.

  • Patrik Floding

    Sure, the vegans will be exercising less, due to low energy levels. They will be slim due to starving. Simples.

    • Evy

      you cannot be serious :D

    • Ed

      Hahaha, thanks for the laugh, Patrik Floding!

  • Liz

    I love this website, but something is not right with this study. I know people who have lost weight by increasing their meat consumption.

    • Toxins

      They did not lose weight by increasing meat, the real culprit was the cutting in calories. Those on an atkins style diet also lose weight through water.

    • Patrik Floding

      It’s increased fat that help losing weight. Not increased lean meat consumption -that would not be a good thing.

  • Charles Peden

    This is a cruel video. I haven’t lost a single pound from eating vegan since the beginning of the year. It brought my cholesterol down from 260 to 164, so now I’m the 290 lb. guy who has the lowest cholesterol in the office. I’ve also recently started eating low salt about a month ago. That hasn’t affected my weight, either.

    Switching to vegan was easy. But reducing my salt intake took the enjoyment out of eating. Now I have the depressing prospect of having to reduce sugar and fat, too. The “healthier” I eat, the less I enjoy food. I don’t blame people for running to McDonald’s.

    I stick with it because I work part-time in a nursing home and I see the effects of stroke and rheumatoid arthritis. As scary as those are, I seem to be the only staff member who is actually making a dietary change to try and prevent that from happening to myself. My job is also physically demanding which has not had any effect on weight loss, either.

    If I still haven’t talked you out of this way of eating, realize that I can’t just pop in to one of the dozens of fast food restaurants near one of my jobs. I work over 60 hours a week and don’t have much time to devote to cooking, so convenience is certainly a premium. But I can’t just run and get something to eat like everybody else I work with. And I don’t look forward to meals anyway because my food is not compelling. I just eat to stop being hungry.

    It is alleged that this way of eating will get better over time, but that time is not now. This is not enjoyable. This is healthy food, but not delicious food. If this food causes weight loss, I have yet to see any personal evidence of that. Obesity is not cured by simply eating a vegan diet. I hope it eventually will prove to be effective, but nothing so far.

    • Anna

      try reading 80-10-10 by Dr. Douglas Graham its a very enlightening book. Fruit is fast food made by nature!:) good luck

      • Patrik Floding

        Yeah, eating fruit, which is sweet because it has lots of sugar, is REALLY gonna help someone who eats way too much because insuline levels are all wrong. Good advice, helping someone really get to that diabetes type II stage.

    • Toxins

      There is a big difference between vegan and whole foods plant based. A vegan diet means lack of animal products, and that, in itself, does not guarantee you health. A vegan diet can include white bread, mock meats, chips, sodas, free oils, etc. A vegan diet can be all junk food and still be vegan. The key is to eat whole, minimal processed plant foods.

      • Rami, nowhere in this video does he mention anything about a “whole foods plant based” diet. The video simply compares vegans to other diets and shows a significant weight advantage for vegans. I have not personally seen this to be true from my experience. I would not be surprised if others see this video and experience similar disillusionment.

        • Rami Najjar – NF Moderator

          Charles, exploring beyond this video will bring to light the benefit of whole plant foods versus their refined counterparts.A few examples below.
          http://nutritionfacts.org/video/great-grain-robbery/
          http://nutritionfacts.org/video/olive-oil-and-artery-function/
          http://nutritionfacts.org/video/whole-grains-may-work-as-well-as-drugs/

          In terms of weight loss, oil is 4,000 Kcal per pound, breads and cookies are around 1200-1800 Kcal per pound depending on the fat content. More so for other junk foods. The sweet spot is 400-800 Kcal per pound with moderate exercise.

          Fresh Veggies are around 100 Kcal per pound
          Fresh Fruits around 250-300 Kcal per pound
          Starchy Veggies/Intact Whole Grains around 450-500 Kcal per pound
          Legumes around 550-600 Kcal per pound
          Animal products around 1,000 Kcal per pound

          Above 800 Kcal per pound and weight gain is nearly inevitable unless one engages in very strenuous exercise. Hence why whole unprocessed plant foods are key not only for health but for weight.

          Your personal anecdote also conflicts with my anecdotal experience. This is why I prefer to rely on studies that have more scope than our own personal experiences. Dr. Garth Davis, a bariatric surgeon who practices a plant based diet, stated from his own 10 years of bariatric experience only ever had 1 vegan come to his clinic for a consult and she was obsessed with vegan cookies.

    • fineartmarcella

      charles you can still eat wrong as a vegan. I weighed 300 pounds as a vegan…try Raw, my lifetime hunger disappeared (you know the hunger you feel even after eating a large pizza), I lost 65 pounds easily, and yet to exercise, eat all the fruits you want all day and do eat ALOT of fruits so you get in your calories, then end your day with a 1 pound veggie lovers salad with homemade drsg like juice with added spices or something like that. Make sure you have plenty of fruits around so you never run out, and if you are hungry eat 3 apples not one, or 3 bananas, make sure you satisfy yourself, not just nibble a snack, I really don’t have meal times, I eat when I am hungry, the 80-10-10 book is helpful to learn from. I fix a lunch bag full of fruits and veggies for work and people get jealous! haha Remember when you go raw, don’t try to eat little bits, you are no longer watching calories, you are eating like you were ‘meant’ to eat, thats why it becomes natural, you feel better, and you drop weight!

    • DietFreeLady

      Charles, I couldn’t lose weight no matter what kind of diet I was on, I feel your pain. For me, it turned out subconscious programs and stress were causing my body to store fat. Once I removed the bad programs and changed how I reacted to past and present stress, then I was able to eat according to what made my body feel good and discovered a really happy life. :-) I actually created a 90 day program following the steps I took to go from a size 18 to a size 4/6. http://no-diet-method.com/about-me

  • Lauren Perry

    Is there any discussion in the article regarding other measurements of health besides Type 2 Diabetes (especially since the majority of the scientific community now knows better than to use BMI as an indicator of health or “ideal weight”)?

    I definitely agree with the notion that vegans are generally more health conscious and that it never accounted for in these studies. I think it’s also worth noting that, the more restrictive your diet is by choice, the more disciplined you are able to be about your eating. Someone who, perhaps, wants to be vegan but struggles with temptation is also going to be someone who struggles more to stay away from unhealthy foods in general.

    It’s also true that a lot of people take on a vegan diet because it so restricts what they can eat and restricts the majority of junk food products. Becoming a vegan with health in mind is just like adopting any other health-based dietary changes, and one would expect to see similar results in any shift toward healthy living. I would also expect to see significant differences between those who are ethical vegans (no animal products or testing at all) and those who have simply adopted a plant based diet (veganism for health reasons alone).

    • fineartmarcella

      Just to add, I don’t know that many folks who live a vegan lifestyle just for their health, they usually get in under ethical reasons, then, as they progress, and get ‘better’ at it, they find the health benefits of a vegan lifestyle. I actually do not know a single vegan that is in to exercise or aerobics, most of us just enjoy life and our animals, once you feel the difference in your body and your health you become a health-minded vegan also.

      As a vegetarian, I ate poorly really, lots of processed foods, lots of cheese flavored fat (as my doctor calls it) and was quite obese, losing nothing after leaving the flesh eating world.

      When I became Vegan, (no cheese anymore) I lost about 30-40 pounds from the lack of fat.

      But when I became RAW Vegan, I lost, well so far, 65 pounds, I’m no longer ‘hungry’ all the time, I am satisfied and so much healthier! I still sit on the computer or TV, not quite exercising, but no longer a prediabetic, my total cholesterol is 141 (without statins), well, and all the other labs are great too!

  • Vegetarian Protein

    Im vegan and I do eat a lot of wheat based products. Although I dont eat bread as it tends to make me gain weight I eat lightly cooked pasta made with various things everyday. I would say as I vegan my diet has become based on lower GI wheat based products and an avoidance of bread and rice. I dont get that much exercise these days and tend to be in pretty good shape most of the year round. I would guess my BMI to be ideal and I am also very strong as on the times I have been training I find I am able to gain modest lean muscle mass quite easily without any animal products whatever. I also drink a lot of soy-milk. So basically lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, pasta and soy milk is my diet. Pasta would be the basis.

    • Bénédikte

      I can send you an web side to find some amazing vegan protein if you want. They are made in Canada and get the biological certification AB in France and iso 9000 value. With 98,2% of assimilation with 90% of concentration and without : gluten, OGM, milk, nuts and soya. I mixed them in the morning with fruit vegetable and cereal milk like rice, or spelt flour and hazelnut juice etc…

  • Janice Hanna

    I curious about levels of vegans in the study and I bet the Raw Vegans are the leanest!

  • Susan

    My husband and I are both overweight vegans- too much sugar, too much food, and no exercise on my part. I’m an ethical vegan who is working toward eating much healthier, but I love to cook and ‘veganize’ all our favorite foods, from lasagna to sinful desserts. Are there any studies that compare the health of not so healthy eating vegans to meat eaters? In other words, am I at least somewhat healthier than meat, dairy, and egg eaters? ;)

    • Patrik Floding

      No, you aren’t.
      You would be much, much better off eating bacon, eggs, butter, etc and be the correct weight. You are overeating because carbs drives apetite (due to insuline levels fluctating widely). Stick to high-fat (saturated animal fats) and by doing so, you will avoid raising the insuline level, which eventuall will lead to diabetes type 2.

  • Wade Patton

    I’m more flexi-vegan. Cannot associate with “vegetarians” as dairy has been off my list for 20 years and eggs are gone forever now. Memorial day I had two bites of burger off the grill, as I cooked 40 more for the Americans (all overweight, some obese). Tough spot for a Flexi-vegan!

  • disqus_mYPv0uieOY

    What about meat eaters who don’t eat any dairy? I bet they will be in the exact same category as the vegans. The progesterone in milk from pregnant cows is what causes obesity. Stop milking cows in pregnancy. The difference between vegetarians and vegans is dairy. Vegetarians tend to limit dairy fats such as cream and butter more than do non vegetarians. This to me is the obvious glaring difference, dairy was not controlled in any way in this study. All the studies where dairy is controlled seem to show that eating meat has no effect on weight, it’s actually dairy, specifically commercial dairy.

    • Simon Holland

      You probably have a dairy issue, but my weight reduced on high fat high dairy diet so it cannot be an issue for everyone.

  • SweetCharity

    I’m unable to see the video on my computer. Was Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia studied? Currently, there’s great debate as to whether plant-based sources of omega-3 can be converted to EPA and DHA in humans. Deficiencies can result in Alzheimer’s and heart disease.

  • Erin

    Interesting. I wonder what the “flexitarians” were eating. I’m not vegan… I guess I would define myself as “plant-based.” I don’t eat dairy or eggs but will have meat once or twice a year (working on making a full transition to veganism but I’m not quite there yet). I would imagine that dairy is a MAJOR culprit in excess weight.