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Is permanent weight loss your goal?
Learn the basics of a low fat vegan diet.

Did your doctor prescribe a low fat vegan diet for weight loss or other health issues? If so, be thankful that you have a knowledgable and caring doctor. He or she prescribed a non-invasive treatment. It is safer than drugs or surgery, and it has no harmful side effects. People who follow this diet without "cheating" get great results.

What is a low fat vegan diet?

A vegan diet is simply a plant-based diet. Every bite of food you eat comes from a plant and not from an animal. That means no beef, pork, poultry, fish, other sea animals, eggs, or dairy products. It also means no chicken broth, fish sauce, worcestershire sauce, whey, casein, or other animal byproducts.

You can be a vegan and still have a high fat diet. Many processed vegan foods are high in fat. Vegan crackers, cookies, mayonnaise, chocolate, soy milk, soy cheese, and soy ice cream are a few examples.

Vegetable oils, olive oil, margarine, and vegetable shortening are usually vegan products....but they are 100% fat.

Most whole plant foods are low in fat, but there are a few high fat plant foods:

Food % Fat Food % Fat
avocado 82 seeds 71 - 79
coconut 85 soybeans 40
nuts 71 - 95 tofu 57
olives 84 - 95
A low fat vegan diet avoids high fat foods, whether they are processed foods or natural foods. Slender, healthy vegans may eat small amounts of natural high fat plant foods. They should avoid added free fats like oil. See our review of the RAVE Diet book and Eating DVD. These resources explain in detail why the ideal vegan diet is low in fat.

What is so bad about fat?

Fat is the macronutrient that can easily make us fat. One gram of fat contains 9 calories, compared to 4 calories in a gram of protein or carbohydrate. It is easy for our bodies to convert dietary fat to fat on our bodies. Studies show that most of the people who succeed at weight loss eat low fat diets.

Some fats are especially harmful to our health. On this page are details about the worst fats, as well as descriptions of some other unhealthy foods. Look for unhealthy fats on food labels. Do not cook with them or add them to your food.

But don't we need some good fats in our diet?

Absolutely. There are two essential fatty acids that you must get from your diet:
  • linoleic acid, an omega 6 fat

  • alpha-linolenic acid, an omega 3 fat

We need about 3% of our daily calories from these two fatty acids. The good news is that whole plant foods contain high levels of essential fats. On the other hand, animal foods are deficient in them.

If we take in 10% of our calories from fat, we get more than enough essential fat.  In some parts of China, the diet is only 6% fat and people do not have a deficiency of essential fats. The Chinese in these areas are lean, strong, and healthy.

Is it hard to get 10% of our calories from fat?

This table shows the percent of fat calories in some common plant foods:

Food % Fat Food % Fat
spinach 14 corn 11
kale 12 brown rice  7
romaine lettuce 15 whole wheat  5
iceberg lettuce  8 garbanzo beans 13
cucumbers 12 pinto beans  4
celery 10 black beans  3
tomatoes  9 strawberries  8
carrots  3 blueberries  5
potatoes  1 bananas  3
sweet potatoes  1 apples  3
rolled oats 14 oranges  2

As you can see, they all contain fat. To lose weight, eat mainly the low fat whole plant foods. Add one tablespoon of ground flaxseed or an ounce of walnuts per day for a little extra omega 3 fat.

How do we avoid added free fats?

Prepare your food at home as often as you can. It is hard to follow a low fat vegan diet if you eat many meals in restaurants. Restaurant chefs love to cook with oil....they put it in absolutely everything.

baked potato salsa
If you have to eat out, look for a salad bar and bring your own oil-free dressing. Order steamed vegetables and a baked potato or some plain brown rice. Use A1 Sauce or salsa as a topping.

Read food labels carefully to avoid added fat in packaged products:
  1. Check the Nutrition Facts section. The calories from fat should be no more than 10% of the total calories.

  2. Read the ingredients list! Avoid products that contain:
    • any oils, including olive oil
    • shortening
    • margarine
    • glycerin
    • lecithin
    • mono and diglycerides

In the beginning, you will miss the taste of fat. It is a very addictive flavor. But if you are strict about your low fat vegan diet, within 3 months your tastes will change and you will no longer crave the taste of fatty food. Greasy, oily food will taste disgusting to you!

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