What Is the Vegan Military Diet?
For one thing, it’s not in any way associated with the military.
The original Military Diet is a three-day plan claiming to be based on foods found in a military base cafeteria. For the vegan/vegetarian version, instead of eating bizarre combinations of hot dogs and vanilla ice cream, the food for this fad diet is plant-based. While it seems pretty obvious that this diet isn’t one we recommend you try, we’ll break down the vegan version of the Military Diet below.
What Is the Vegan Military Diet?
How the Vegan Military Diet came to be is unclear, but it has gained (and maintained) popularity over the years. Rumor has it that the original Military Diet is based on foods commonly found in a military base cafeteria. That said, this diet is in no way affiliated with the U.S. Military. Anyone looking for information or literature associated with the Military Diet, the original or vegan version, will be out of luck in many ways. The Military Diet website is not well organized, and several dead pages and errors pop up as you try to navigate it. Nonetheless some dieters are drawn to the mysterious nature of this diet.
The increase in popularity of plant-based diets has given rise to a vegetarian and vegan version of this low-calorie diet. This diet suggests sustaining yourself on three very small meals a day, comprised of small portions of foods including fruit, toast, baked beans, soy milk and hummus.
Is the Vegan Military Diet Healthy?
Most meals on this plan are lacking in nutritional value. Daily menus total less than 1000 calories, which is not adequate for sustainable weight loss or optimal health. Here are some examples by the numbers:
Day 2 Breakfast: 1/2 cup baked beans, 1 slice of whole wheat toast and 1/2 a banana
- Nutrition Info: 313 calories, 7.5 grams fat and 11 grams protein
Day 3 Lunch: 1/2 avocado, 1 tablespoon hummus and 1 slice whole wheat bread
- Nutrition Info: 297 calories, 22 grams fat and 7 grams protein
Day 1 Dinner: A max of 300 calories of tofu, 1 cup of green beans, 1/2 banana, 1 small apple and 1 cup of vegan or regular vegan ice cream
- Nutrition Info: 650 calories, 29 grams of fat and 29 grams of protein
Dinners may be the most substantial meal but feature equally silly combinations of foods. There seems to be an attempt to hit on all macros and several food groups, but the odd combinations and lack of variety would get old very quickly.
Bottom Line: Not worth it.
Both versions of the Military Diet are tremendously restrictive as well as low in calories, nutrients and variety. The low protein tally of the vegetarian/vegan version is particularly concerning. These low values would leave dieters hungry, tired and probably lead to loss of muscle mass instead of fat. Between the monotony and the low yield of nutrients, any qualified nutrition pro would suggest staying away from this diet.
Dana Angelo White, MS, RD, ATC, is a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and owner of Dana White Nutrition, Inc., which specializes in culinary and sports nutrition. She is the author of four cookbooks First Bites: Superfoods for Babies and Toddlers, The Healthy Air Fryer Cookbook, The Healthy Instant Pot Cookbook and Healthy Quick and Easy Smoothies.
*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.