Will I Ever Feel Full if I Go Vegan?

It’s always disappointing when a meal doesn’t hit the spot and leave you sated, but being vegan does not make this any more likely. It’s all about making sure the right food groups are plentiful on your plate and loading up with delicious and satisfying slow-release foods.

Can You Feel Full Without Meat?

You know that feeling of being uncomfortably full after a meal? And the associated feeling of drowsiness or fatigue — an experience known as postprandial somnolence? This can happen when we eat a lot of protein (think “meat sweats!”) or when we are actually over-full. Too often we mistake those sensations for a normal feeling of being full but this is not normal.

When people move away from meat, they often say that the sensation of being full is different — the satiation remains but there is still a lightness to it, and a greater sense of comfort. And this is, in part, due to something called caloric density.

Caloric Density

This is the measure of how many calories are in a pound of food. Meat, cheese, and oil are towards the top of the scale, while vegetables, grains, and fruits are towards the bottom. This means, for the same number of calories, we get a greater bulk of food from plant foods. This fills us up but doesn’t add unwanted calories, which may make digestion harder, leading to sleepiness and discomfort. 

This also means that people who eat a plant-based diet can actually eat more food, and that helps ensure we get all the essential micronutrients we may miss if we fill up on calorie-dense but nutrient-limited meat, cheese, and eggs.

Slow-Release Foods

One reason we may feel unexpected hunger is because we are filling up on the wrong foods. Some foods can leave as sated in the moment but a couple of hours later, we are hungry all over again. This is caused by a blood sugar dip because the foods we ate first spiked and then crashed our blood sugar levels. Complex carbohydrates like whole grains, vegetables, and legumes are the answer as they fill us up and help us stay fuller for longer. And if you are eagle-eyed you will have spotted that these are the same foods that have lower calorie densities and contain the essential micronutrients that we all need to stay healthy. That’s a win-win-win.

What Should I Eat To Feel Full as a Vegan?

Load up on wholegrains, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and fruit for a meal that satisfies, provides all the nutrients you need, fills you up, and keeps you fuller for longer. There is a wealth of vegan products made from these plant-based ingredients, so let’s break them down into their well-known macronutrients: protein, carbs, and fats

Vegan Proteins to Keep You Full

Protein is a key macronutrient that keeps us feeling full after a meal and this has led to the misconception that you need meat to feel full. You don’t! But you do need protein. Among our favorites are:

  • Tofu. Made from beans, tofu is a super-healthy option. We like firm smoked tofu on a salad, or in stir fries or curries. A GenV tip is to blend silken tofu with lemon, nuts, and nutritional yeast to create a creamy pasta or curry sauce. Yes please!
  • Tempeh. This is another delicious soy-based product that is common in Southeast Asian cuisine. It is protein-rich (around 20%) and delicious! It’s also fermented, which makes it a great option for a healthy gut microbiome.
  • Lentils. A red lentil dahl is one of the easiest, most delicious, healthy, cheap, and filling dishes you can make at home.
  • Beans. Beans are an endless bounty of delicious, filling protein. Chickpeas, black beans, butter beans, kidney beans, runner beans, edamame… the list goes on. Here’s 32 bean recipes you’re bound to love. 
  • Seitan. This nutrient-dense “meaty” product is made from the protein in wheat. The amount of protein depends on the brand, but it is always high, while fat content is low. You can make it at home and use it in whatever dish you would have used meat from animals.     
  • Nuts. Nuts are among the healthiest forms of protein and fats we can consume. Cashews are our favorite for a filling meal. They can be soaked and blended into sauces, added to grain salads, or thrown into curries or stir fries.

Healthy Carbs To Keep You Full

Not all carbs are created equal. Simple carbs — like milk, candies, cakes, and soft drinks — are broken down quickly by the body, and then our blood sugar crashes, and we are hungry again, and maybe shaky and irritable, too.

But complex carbs, well, that’s an entirely different story. They fill us up and release their energy slowly, which helps keep us fuller for longer. There are plenty of delicious complex carbs to choose from, which means every meal can be different. Our favorites include:

  • Quinoa. This can be served in place of rice, turned into a delicious grains-and-greens dish, or added to soups and casseroles. Check out these 22 delicious quinoa recipes from Forks Over Knives. 
  • Brown rice. Ah, the humble brown rice! Except it’s not so humble after all. Researchers tell us: “Brown rice contains relatively higher amounts of dietary fibre, moderate amount of proteins, unsaturated lipids, micronutrients and several bioactive compounds…low glycemic index properties; hence they might be helpful to counter the growing type II diabetes.” Think Spanish rice, Thai rice, Mexican rice, or rice and peas. Use it in Buddha bowls or to stuff vegetables with.
  • Sweet potatoes. Love them! Not only do they taste amazing, but the health benefits include “antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and hepatoprotective activity, cardiovascular protection, anticancer properties and improvement in neurological and memory capacity, metabolic disorders, and intestinal barrier function.” 
  • Yams. Native to Africa, there are different kinds of yams grown in different parts of the world, although too often they get confused with sweet potatoes. Yams contain vitamins A and C, as well as calcium and iron. We should all eat more yams, and to get you started check out these five recipes from The Nigerian Vegan.
  • Oatmeal. Oats are filling and slow-release, and are full of micronutrients, which makes oatmeal the best way to start your day. Spice it up for a treat of a breakfast.
  • Bananas. According to Medline: “Bananas are a healthy source of fiber, potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin C, and various antioxidants and phytonutrients.” They are also a really handy and portable snack, while giving body to smoothies, breakfasts, and snacks. These 38 recipes are heaven-sent for when your bananas are ripening a little too fast.
  • Peas and beans. The longest-living populations in the world rely on beans, which are cheap, high in fiber and protein, low in fat, and incredibly versatile. Those who have studied longevity and pinpointed geographic hotspots where people live longest (known as Blue Zones), call beans “the cornerstone of every Blue Zones diet in the world” .
  • Wholemeal or rye bread. Filling, delicious, a good source of nutrients, and a great accompaniment to many meals, we can heartily recommend switching from refined white loaves to something more filling and nutrient-dense. 
  • Whole wheat pasta. And just as wholemeal bread is preferable to white, so whole wheat pasta is a world away from refined white pasta in terms of nutrition and ability to satiate. Our current favorite type is orzo. Try this hearty and delicious one-pot meal!

Vegetables to Keep You Feeling Full

Vegetables are among the healthiest foods we can eat, and we should be eating LOTS of them every day. Because vegetables have low calorie density, we can do that easily, as we can fill up on the bulk of them without significantly increasing our calorie intake. Paired with healthy proteins, carbs, and fats, vegetables are a key part of feeling nice and full after a delicious meal. They also bring the flavor, color, and all those micronutrients we cannot do without.

Healthy Fats To Keep You Feeling Full

Healthy fats are essential for good health and are a key component of that wonderful feeling of being satisfied after a meal. Of course, not all fats are good. Trans fats are particularly unhealthy. They are unsaturated fats that often come from industrial sources and are found in processed foods as well as naturally in meat and dairy from cows, sheep, and goats. Says the World Health Organization: “Both industrially produced and naturally occurring trans fat are equally harmful.” We would do well to avoid all trans fats in our diets.

Then there are saturated fats, which are very common in many of our diets, but this does not make them healthy. These fats tend to be solid at room temperature and they include meat — such as sausages, bacon, red meat, etc — as well as cheese, pastries, and baked goods. Eating these can raise our cholesterol levels and contribute to heart disease. The advice is to limit these foods as much as possible.

But then we come to unsaturated fats. These are the good guys, and they can be monounsaturated fats (such as olive oil, avocados, and nuts) which form part of the classic Mediterranean Diet, or polyunsaturated fats. These are essential fats, which means we need them for health, but our bodies cannot make them, and so they are essential in our diets. These are our omega 3s and 6s

Good sources of omega-3 include flaxseeds, walnuts, chia seeds, and hemp oil, while omega 6 can be found plentifully in a plant-based diet in tofu, nuts (including nut butters), seeds, and vegetable oils.

Meal Plan for a Vegan Diet That Keeps You Full

Vegan Breakfast Ideas To Fill You Up

Vegan Lunch Ideas To Fill You Up

Vegan Dinners That Will Fill You Up

Does It Always Have To Be Healthy?

You don’t have to eat healthily to be vegan and there is no shortage of fast food, sweet treats, and other processed goods available. If you want to get a taste of the kinds of things vegans can eat, check out these 25 vegan junk food recipes for some inspiration!

Although these foods may fill us up in the moment, they can also leave us feeling uncomfortably full (junk food tricks us into eating more than we want) and the satiety may not last long. Plus, of course, these foods do not really nourish us and support our health. But if junk food is your jam — and many vegans, like many other people, do choose to eat this way — it can be totally worth it. After all, plant-based foods are better for animals and the planet than meat, fish, milk, and eggs, but GenV also advocates for people to live a healthier life, so choosing whole plant-based foods is the best way to support all three goals.


Choosing a whole food plant-based diet allows us to fill up on delicious and healthy foods that sustain us for longer while supporting our long-term health. By choosing from the range of complex carbohydrates, healthy plant-based fats, and proteins, and adding plenty of vegetables, we can satisfy our hunger, love our food, and protect animals, the planet, and our health.

It’s the best of all worlds. 

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