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!
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.
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
- 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
- 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
- Most sodas
- Vegan wine & beer
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
- 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!
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