What Do Vegans Eat (Food List)

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by Alena Schowalter
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Not sure what vegans eat? We’ll share helpful food lists of vegan items and easy recipes to make from them so you get a good overview in no time!

Going vegan has become really popular lately! But it can be confusing to understand what vegans can eat and what vegans don’t eat when you’re just starting out.

There are different vegan diets emphasizing or omitting certain foods, and you come across cryptic ingredients when checking the label!

Our article is here to help you out. Be sure to grab our vegan grocery list for more tips!

What is a vegan

Veganism is a philosophy and way of living which seeks to reduce the exploitation of animals as far as practicable and possible.

This lifestyle entails the food on your plate, clothes or cosmetics you buy, other fabrics and materials like leather sofas as well as zoos or horse riding.

The main foods vegans don’t eat are meat, fish, seafood, dairy, eggs, honey and other by-products.

different vegetables, grains and legumes on a table

What do vegans eat

The short answer: anything without any animal products! 

This includes veggies, fruits, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, and many convenience foods like meat or dairy replacements, frozen pizza, or ice cream.

Let’s take a closer look at each section!

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Most people think “vegetables” when being asked what vegans eat.

Well, yes, that’s true! Although this is no requirement for being vegan, we all should eat our vegetables every day.

Enjoy the following foods raw or cooked, baked, roasted, or pureed!

  • Cruciferous veggies: broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, cabbage
  • Leafy greens: spinach, lettuce, arugula, collard greens, swiss chard, romaine
  • Nightshades: eggplant, bell peppers, hot peppers, tomatoes
  • Starchy vegetables: potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, taro, parsnips, beets, carrots
  • Winter squash: pumpkin, butternut, kabocha, acorn
  • Allium vegetables: onions, scallions, garlic, leeks, chives, shallots
  • Mushrooms
  • Asparagus, artichokes, celery
  • Cucumber, zucchini, avocado
  • Green beans, snow peas, snap peas


Ah, nature’s candy! Bursting with vitamins, antioxidants, fiber, and water, fruits can be eaten several times per day as a snack, breakfast or when made into a dessert.

Buy what’s in season, and always have a bag of frozen fruit at home to make smoothies, stir into oatmeal or bake into banana bread!

  • Apples, pears
  • Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries
  • Grapes, figs, kiwi, pomegranate
  • Raisins, dates, goji berries, mulberries
  • Bananas, mangoes, pineapple
  • Oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit
  • Watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe
  • Nectarines, apricots, plums, cherries
  • Passionfruit, dragon fruit, lychee, guava, jackfruit


Grains offer steady energy thanks to their complex carbs and can be turned into so many tasty things! 

From bread to pasta, pizza, cookies, or tacos, grains are on everyone’s plate several times per day.

Focus on whole grains for additional health benefits, and choose unprocessed ones like rice over flour products if you’re looking to lose weight!

Go for pseudo-grains like rice or millet if you’re gluten-free.

  • Rice, quinoa, millet, buckwheat
  • Oats, corn, wheat, barley
  • Rye, kamut, farro, couscous, bulgur
  • Bread, pasta, flour, rolls, wraps


This food group is really underappreciated! Legumes like beans, lentils, and soy products are full of plant-based protein, fiber, complex carbs, and minerals.

Beans and lentils are among the cheapest and healthiest foods and can be cooked from scratch or bought in cans. Our favorite way to eat beans is hummus!

  • Kidney & black beans
  • Cannellini & navy beans
  • Navy, pinto, fava beans
  • Black-eyed peas
  • Chickpeas
  • Lima beans
  • Split peas, yellow and green
  • Lentils: green, brown, red, yellow
  • Tofu, tempeh, edamame, soy milk
  • TVP, soy curls

Nuts & seeds

Nuts and seeds are the last of the five main vegan food groups. They can be used in salads, smoothies, or oatmeal, and their butter can be made into caramel sauce or vegan mayo!

Nuts and seeds offer important omega-3 fats, calcium, zinc, magnesium, and iron. Take your pick!

  • Nuts: almonds, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, cashews, macadamia, Brazil nuts, pistachios, pine nuts
  • Seeds: chia, hemp, flax, sesame, pumpkin, sunflower
  • Nut Butter: almond, cashew, peanut, macadamia, coconut
  • Seed Butter: tahini, pumpkin seed, sunflower seed 


Spices, herbs, and sauces make food taste fantastic in the first place! 

Anyone who thinks that vegan food is bland doesn’t know how to put some flavor in their meals — after all, an unseasoned piece of meat doesn’t taste like much, either.

The sky’s the limit when it comes to fresh or dried herbs and pantry spices. Pay closer attention to pre-made spice mixes and sauces or other condiments and check if they are vegan!

  • Herbs (basil, oregano, thyme, marjoram, rosemary, etc.)
  • Spices (ginger, turmeric, paprika, cinnamon, etc.)
  • Aromatics (onion, garlic, scallions, etc.)
  • Sauces (soy sauce, hot sauce, BBQ sauce, chili sauce, etc.)
  • Ketchup, mustard, relish
  • Hummus, guacamole, salsa
  • Vegan mayo (i.e. Veganaise)
  • Oil, vinegar
  • Nutritional yeast


Apart from drinks containing cow’s milk and some juices or wines made using fish bladders, vegans can have pretty much all beverages!

Check for the vegan label to be sure, or stick to mostly water to make things super easy.

  • Water, flavored or sparkling water
  • Coffee, tea
  • Juices & smoothies
  • Plant-based milk
  • Kombucha
  • Most sodas
  • Vegan wine & beer

Convenience food

Vegan convenience food has come a long way over the years! Find our 100+ favorite replacements here or try them yourself to see which ones you like.

While some processed foods have a vegan logo on the front or back, there are a couple of “accidentally vegan” products that can be detected by skimming the ingredients list.

There’s pretty much vegan convenience food for every item these days!

  • Vegan cheese
  • Vegan ice cream
  • Frozen pizza
  • Bagels
  • Margarine, cream cheese
  • Potato chips
  • Cookies like Oreos
  • Spring rolls, ramen
  • Pretzels, puff pastry, waffles
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More vegan food tips

If someone is thinking about what vegans eat, they seem to forget that: vegan food is just food. 

It’s typically something we’re all familiar with and goes far beyond a sad salad or carrot sticks!

If you’re new to plant-based eating, start by getting some vegan staple foods, then follow our cooking tips to make tasty beginner-friendly recipes!

You can also tweak your vegan diet by choosing more vegan weight gain foods or weight loss foods!

Did you find the article helpful? Share it with your friends, Pin it here and leave a comment below!

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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. Hi Alena,
    Thank you for your lovely website and resourceful contents.
    I have been vegetarian and vegan since the ’90s.
    Love to see vegan entering the mainstream culture in recent years.
    I also happy to see certified nutritionists specialized in plant-based nutrition.
    One observation about my experience reading your article, it contains too many embedded ads that disrupt my reading. I would love to see a more conservative placement of ads, especially not embedded in the text of the article.
    Best of luck with your good work.

    • Thanks so much for the feedback, I’ll have my partner check on that :) Have you noticed whether other small business websites similar to ours have noticeably fewer ads? x


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