There’s so much talk about losing weight, but what if you want to put on a few pounds? And no, not by shoving your face with burgers and fried chicken and heart-attack-on-platters. Let’s say you want to avoid all meats for health benefits, but you still want to gain weight. You’d like to go vegetarian, but all your vegetarian friends are super slim. I mean, after all, all they eat is plants, which have hardly any calories, right?

Contrary to popular belief, you can still gain weight as a vegetarian—healthy weight. And here’s exactly how.

Establish a goal

First things first, you should figure out where you are and where you want to be as far as weight goes. How much do you want to weigh? Do you want to build muscle, and if so, where?

Count your calories

Now that you’ve got a goal, what are you proposing to do every day to reach that goal? The answer should of course include eating more calories. Yes, plant-based foods are often less caloric-dense than meat, but they are also less likely to clog your arteries. Nonetheless, here are foods that can help you gain weight without killing an animal.

Eat more nuts

Nuts are a great source of the macronutrients protein and fat—saturated fats, to be specific. Although an excess of saturated fats has been linked to high blood pressure, our bodies still require a little bit of saturated fat. At most 7 percent of our calories should be saturated fat.

If you’re more interested in eating protein rather than fat, opt for nuts that are less fatty like almonds and cashews.

Peanut butter sandwiches

With that being said, it’s pretty much a given that PB sandwiches can also catapult you closer to your weight-gain goals.

Prepare peanut butter sandwiches in bulk so you can reach for one whenever you feel you haven’t reached your caloric goal for the day.

Two tablespoons of peanut butter (a regular serving size) contains about 16 grams of fat and 7 grams of protein. This protein is incomplete (meaning that it’s missing a few amino acids), but the bread you use—WHEAT!—contains those missing amino acids.

Choose hummus over ranch

Hummus is a gift sent directly from the Greek gods. Made mainly of chickpeas and whatever your heart desires, hummus serves as a nutritious calorie-dense dipping or topping. A cup  of hummus contains about 409 according to the USDA, and the fats from it are mainly the healthy fats. Instead of empty-calorie ranch, dip your baby carrots in a tasty vat of hummus.


Even if being a muscle head isn’t your goal, EVERYONE should lift weights.

Lifting weights plays a role in preventing Type II Diabetes.

Lifting weights prevent you from becoming a weak old grandma/pa when you’re older (sarcopenia)

Lifting weights helps you fight depression.

And the list can seriously go on and on.

It’s definitely not impossible for vegetarians to gain weight. All it takes is a little bit of patience and a lot a bit of food. With proper training, eating, and counting, you’ll reach your weight-gain goals in no time.