Why do some vegetarians get fat?

The “V” words and why I don’t label myself as such

Vegetarian and Vegan. Those words are all about what some people don’t eat. For example; they don’t eat meat, they don’t eat cheese, they don’t eat eggs, etc. So if they’re not eating animal products, why are so many of them overweight? It’s because they are obsessed about what they don’t eat and don’t give nearly enough thought to what they are eating. This gives you one clue as to why I don’t particularly like the “V” words.

While I probably eat more whole plants than any man in Connecticut, I don’t describe myself as a vegetarian or vegan. If you want a label that describes the way I eat, then I would go with a “human who prefers to eat the natural diet for our species.”

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As for labels, it seems to me that the people who need the “label” are the folks that have decided to eat the toxic western diet, which is nowhere close to the natural diet for humans. When people ask me if I am a vegetarian, I am tempted to say, “No, I am an American.” So, to summarize, here are…

My top five reasons for not using the “V” words to describe my diet-style

  1. They’re really more about conveying information about what a person doesn’t eat…when what a person does eat is far more important.
  2. There is no commonly understood definition for either vegetarian or vegan. If you ask the first ten people you see in your office this morning, you may get ten different answers.
  3. Many vegetarians and vegans are not necessarily eating a very healthy diet. Too much refined carbohydrates, too much cheese, too much eggs, too much oil, too many potato chips and not nearly enough whole plants.
  4. As I pride myself on eating a near optimal diet; deriving over 80% of my calories from whole plant foods; I don’t like to be grouped in the large number of so-called vegetarians who don’t eat a very healthy diet.
  5. Bottom Line. I simply don’t like labels and stereotypes and the prejudices and misunderstandings that go along with them…and 90% of the western world still think that the “V” people are a little weird.

Dr. John McDougall. Check out this related article, “Fat Vegan” in his newsletter.

Fortunately for me and my family, I discovered the world-changing power of consuming mostly plants – in nature’s package in 2003 and we have benefited greatly from that knowledge — even if I have an occasional bite of fish or cheese.

Many of our medical experts have confirmed that a guy like myself that eats an enormous amount of whole plants with a rare bite of cheese or fish is likely to be much healthier than the self-described vegan who NEVER eats any animal products.

Instead of eating lots of whole plants, many vegans get most of their calories from oil, sugar, and highly processed foods…and that is exactly why many vegetarians AND vegans are overweight or obese.

After all, they could eat nothing but potato chips and Diet Coke and call themselves vegan…but they wouldn’t be very healthy…nor would they be at their ideal weight.

Authors J. Stanfield Hicks and J. Morris Hicks , working daily to promote health, hope and harmony on planet Earth.

For more discussion about the optimal diet for humans, you might enjoy our recent blog about “where Bill Clinton is getting his protein these days.

Handy 5-piece take-charge-of-your-health kit—from Amazon.com

Why should we be eating mostly plants? The “big picture” in 4 minutes.

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J. Morris Hicks, working daily to promote health, hope and harmony on planet Earth.

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—J. Morris Hicks, board member, T. Colin Campbell Foundation

About J. Morris Hicks

A former strategic management consultant and senior corporate executive with Ralph Lauren in New York, J. Morris Hicks has always focused on the "big picture" when analyzing any issue. In 2002, after becoming curious about our "optimal diet," he began a study of what we eat from a global perspective ---- discovering many startling issues and opportunities along the way. In addition to an MBA and a BS in Industrial Engineering, he holds a certificate in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, where he has also been a member of the board of directors since 2012. Having concluded that our food choices hold the key to the sustainability of our civilization, he has made this his #1 priority---exploring all avenues for influencing humans everywhere to move back to the natural plant-based diet for our species.
This entry was posted in Obesity, Vegan or vegetarian?, Weight-Loss. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Why do some vegetarians get fat?


    To me, you just seem like an arrogant man looking for some limelight.
    Maybe you should re-think what you are saying… You’re saying that most vegetarians and vegans don’t eat their veggies, when both words begin with VEG. Being a vegetarian isn’t about what you don’t eat, I agree with you on that, but your saying that most vegetarians DO think that its about what you don’t eat. Which just isn’t true. Being a veg(an)etarian is all ABOUT eating veggies and fruits. This doesn’t mean every single one of them has to ban carbs and starchy foods from their life forever, it just means they shouldn’t be eating it pound by pound in place of meat or dairy.
    Besides, we were never meant to be eating animal products in the first place… Anybody can live a perfectly healthy lifestyle without those things, as long as, like you said, they stay away from all those carbs and fatty fat fat-lard-oil products.
    However I can level with you, I suppose. My aunt is a vegetarian and she- pardon me saying- looks similar to a tick. Well, I’ve seen her eat, and she often eats TONS of dairy, and lots of junk food. She’s actually allergic to corn though. But anyway, once I gave her a FULL mayo jar because she said she needed it, and then later that day I looked it the fridge and it was nearly EMPTY…. I’m not sure what she did with it, but either way, that disgusted me.

    I don’t really like this article, but I don’t hate it either. You make a point, but then I feel like arguing with you. Weird.

  2. Craig Holman says:

    I recall a movie, The Jerk, with Steve Martin. In the movie his favorite birthday meal is a tuna fish sandwich on white bread, a Twinkie and a Tab, the Standard American Diet. Take out the tune fish and make it a cheese sandwich and you have vegetarian meal. Is it healthy? Take out the cheese and make it a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with the Twinkie and Tab. Now it is vegan. Is it healthy? For the final step make a wrap with veggies, add an apple, add a glass of cold green tea. Is it healthy? I call this nutritarian as would Dr. Fuhrman. I do love Dr. McDougall’s talk about the fat vegan.

    I enjoy your daily posts. Thanks.


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