What Can’t Vegans Eat (Essential Diet Rules)

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by Alena Schowalter
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Wondering what vegans can’t eat? We’ll share helpful food lists of non-vegan items to look out for in this article so you’re all set.

Plant-based diets have become more and more popular over the last few years. From vegetarian to flexitarian, there are so many different ways to reduce animal products!

You might be familiar with the basics of what vegans eat. But what can’t vegans eat? How about honey, bread, seafood, or pasta?

Get all the answers in this article, and check out our going vegan guide and grocery list for more information.

What can’t vegans eat

Vegans choose to avoid foods derived from animals. Apart from the apparent meat, fish, dairy, eggs, and honey, they also don’t eat products made from these foods like gelatine, beef broth, and more.

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An animal has to lose its life to produce meat (lab meat is the only exception.) This is something vegans oppose —  and they don’t care about labels like “humane” or “grass-fed.”

Vegans value the well-being of the individual animal and don’t want them to be mistreated or slaughtered unnecessarily (unless they are in a lot of pain, like a pet that has to be put down.)

  • Red meat: beef, pork, game, lamb, goat, etc.
  • White meat: chicken, turkey, ducks, etc.
  • Insects or exotic animals

There’s a replacement for any meat product available at grocery stores! You can also make your own from legumes, veggies, or jackfruit.

Fish & seafood

Fish are not vegetables and have the ability to feel pain and to suffer! 

Vegans don’t eat any sea creatures, except for “ostrovegans” who eat mussels or oysters because bivalves are most likely not sentient.

  • Salmon, tuna, cod, etc.
  • Shrimp, lobster, crab
  • Clam, scallops, prawns
  • Anchovies and other fish
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Eggs come from chickens and aren’t consumed by vegans — even free-range eggs. 

While there is a hypothetical case in which it would be ethical to take an egg and eat it, this situation rarely happens in the real world.

Eggs can sneak their way into many products, as you’ll see below!

  • Egg yolks & whites
  • Mayonnaise
  • Baked goods made with eggs
  • Breaded and battered foods
  • Cream pies, fillings, puffs
  • Custard, ice cream
  • Eggrolls


Dairy cows produce breastmilk only for their young when they are pregnant. Vegans oppose everything that goes on in this industry so that humans can consume milk from cows, sheep or goats!

Nowadays, there is a plethora of dairy-free milk on the market, and you’ll be sure to find your favorite ice cream, cheese, or whipped cream in a dairy-free version.

Try our almond creamer or cashew sour cream if you want to make your own! The list below outlines the main products containing dairy.

  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Butter
  • Ghee
  • Cream 
  • Ice cream
  • Whipped cream
  • Yogurt
  • Kefir
  • Whey
  • Casein
  • Creamy sauces
  • Breading
  • Pudding
  • Curds
  • Some medicine


Honey comes from bees and is therefore not plant-based. However, not all vegans avoid honey as they are not convinced that bees feel pain or need to suffer for honey production!

It’s easy to swap honey for other vegan sweeteners: use maple syrup, agave syrup, rice syrup or brown sugar. In some cases, white sugar can be non-vegan.

Is honey plant-based?

Non-vegan ingredients

Apart from the aforementioned non-vegan foods, a few sneaky ingredients are also derived from animals.

Check your label for these!

  • Isinglass
  • Choineal
  • Gelatine
  • Bone char (used to make white sugar)
  • Shellac
  • L-cysteine
  • Red food dye

What else do vegans avoid?

Since veganism is a lifestyle and not just a diet, there are more products that they don’t buy — apart from food. Here’s an overview!

  • Leather
  • Wool
  • Silk
  • Fur
  • Suede
  • Down
  • Pearls
  • Vitamin D3
  • Cleaning or beauty products with animal-derived ingredients, i.e. collagen
  • Products that were tested on animals
  • Tickets to the zoo
  • Horse riding

More vegan food tips

You can easily find most vegan staple foods at your local store. Many packaged foods will have a vegan logo on them, so you don’t even have to check the ingredient list!

If you don’t have many specialty products at your local store, there’s a strong chance you can order them online!

You can read more about the types of vegans and different vegan diets, what I eat in a day as a vegan, and beginner-friendly vegan cookbooks to get some inspiration.

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Hi, I'm Alena Schowalter — a Certified Vegan Nutritionist who has been a vegetarian since childhood and vegan since 2012. Together with my husband, I founded nutriciously in 2015 and have been guiding thousands of people through different transition stages toward a healthy plant-based diet. I enjoy discussions around vegan ethics, walks through nature, and creating new recipes. Read more about us here.


  1. Vitamin D3 supplements typically aren’t vegan. However, you can find plant-derived D3 supplements in most health-oriented stores. Just check that it’s says vegan or plant-based.


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