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What do Vegans Eat?: Vegan Food List for Beginners

What do Vegans Eat?: Vegan Food List for Beginners

diet & exercise lifestyle on being vegan Feb 11, 2016

I used to think that the question "why are you vegan?" was the one I got the most frequently until I noticed that there's one that beats it by a mile (and for good reason): What do you eat? 

This post is meant to give you the basics of what it means to be vegan, especially when it comes to what to put on your plate. It's helpful if you are a new vegan and in need of tips and support, and if you are a well seasoned vegan, this post is great for sharing with family and friends that have questions and concerns about your new diet and lifestyle. So on to the matter at hand... what do vegans eat?!

What do Vegans Eat? The Short Answer

A vegan diet consists of no meat, dairy products, eggs, fish, shellfish, honey, gelatin, or any other animal product. Vegans avoid all foods derived from animals, including milk, cheese, butter, yogurt, ice cream, and instead, eat all foods that come from plants, and vegan versions of all of the above like non-dairy milk, dairy free butter and cheese, and plant-based alternatives to pretty much any food and dish you can imagine, using plant-based ingredients instead of animal-based ingredients.




In my opinion, when someone asks me "what do vegans eat?" I think they are asking me two very different questions:

1) What foods are or aren't vegan?

2) What can you make with what is vegan? Aka: What are some vegan meal ideas or dishes for vegans?


These are both very important questions and whether you're reading this to get answers yourself or to be able to explain this to someone who is asking you, here's the lowdown on what vegans serve on their plates. 


Vegan Food List: Foods that ARE vegan

  • All fruits
  • All vegetables
  • Mushrooms and yeast (hello making homemade bread, or buying it for that matter!)
  • All beans, lentils and other legumes
  • Nuts and nut butters
  • Seeds and seed butters
  • Grains and grain products (a.k.a. BREAD! and PASTA! Happy dance)
  • All spices and herbs
  • Vegan cheeses,  butters, yogurts and non-dairy yogurt or dairy free ice cream
  • Vegan egg replacers (for baking and now for sunny side up style eggs and scrambled eggs)
  • Vegan meats (including sausages, burgers, chicken alternatives, seafood alternatives and more)
  • and yes... before you ask me: dark chocolate or non-dairy milk chocolate (just check the ingredients label)

Foods that AREN'T vegan:

  • Meat from any animal source (this includes fish and other seafood, chicken, turkey, beef, game meat, etc.)
  • Milk, butter, cheese, yogurt, dairy based ice cream and any other dairy products or products containing dairy
  • Eggs and products containing eggs
  • Honey
  • Gelatin
  • Stuff with weird names on it that basically means one of the previous items like: whey, whey protein, casein, rennit, cochineal (crushed up red bugs that help make candy and other foods red... yup! that's a thing!)


What does this mean really?


I want you to read this as if you were on SNL reading the side effects of one of their funny "drugs"... are you ready?

Apples, tangerines, dates, apricots, strawberries, blueberries, pineapples, mangoes, coconuts, kiwis, pears, bananas, grapes, nectarines, peaches, pomegranates, blackberries, broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, peas, snap peas, artichokes, onions, cucumbers, a gazillion types of lettuce, kale, collard greens, green onions, sweet peppers, chilli peppers, celery, carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, corn, turnips, leeks, zucchinis, eggplants, radishes,  asparagus, pumpkins, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, brussels sprouts, chard, string beans, avocados, tomatoes, button mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, enoki mushrooms, shiitake, maitake, portobellos, cremini, wild, morel, bolete, chanterelle and yes, truffles!


Are you tired yet? We're not done!

Wild rice, white rice, brown rice, basmati rice, arborio rice, quinoa, millet, bulgur, buckwheat, teff, oats, spelt, white pasta, whole grain pasta, quinoa pasta, buckwheat pasta, rice noodles, whole grain bread, sprouted bread, Italian bread, pita bread, mochi, polenta. Beans!: white, black, navy, pinto, garbanzo, red kidney, white kidney, great Northern, butter, edamame, soy, lentils, split peas, black eyed peas! 

Take a breather... let's go!

Sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts, cashews, macademia nuts, pecans, peanuts, peanut butter, cashew butter, VEGAN NUTELLA!, almond butter, parsley, oregano, basil, rosemary, thyme, sage, smoked paprika, chilli powder, curry powder, marjoram, lemongrass, pepper, cilantro, vegan meats, vegan milks, sweeteners and spreads, vegan cheeses, vegan sausages and hot dogs (even vegan chorizo!), tofu, seitan, tempeh, agave nectar, maple syrup, brown rice syrup, molasses, barbecue sauce, mustard, relish, ketchup, vegan mayonnaise, vegan cream cheese, vegan ‘chicken tenders’, vegan deli meats, vegan spare ‘ribs’, vegan ‘buffalo wings’, nutty but true!

What's crazy is this list is just a portion of what is available.

What I love is that even if you take out all the vegan products like cheeses and meats, it's so easy to still have your favorites, and even make your own vegan staples at home (we've got tons of video recipes for this as part of our My Brownble online membership).

Vegan Meal Ideas and Dishes: What can you make with what is vegan?



  • Delicious vegan burgers (with vegan cheese and even vegan bacon!)
  • Vegan bowls with different components: veggies, whole grains, beans or other plant-based proteins, guacamole, tahini, kimchi or other toppings... Yum!

  • Tacos, burritos and fajitas made with veggies, beans and even seitan or other veggie meats

  • Amazing classics for breakfast like these (pancakes, french toast, muffins, scrambles, breakfast burritos and breakfast sandwiches, toast and your favorite spreads)


  • Pizza! (with or without vegan cheese)

  • Lasagna, gnocchi, risottos and your favorite pastas including dishes pasta bolognese made with seitan, mushrooms, ground vegan meat crumbles, and even fettuccine alfredo

  • Seitan steak and fries

  • Amazing salads and wraps

  • Sandwiches, panninis and focaccia

  • Chili and corn bread

  • Creamy soups and stews

  • Vegan sushi, tempura made without eggs, miso soup and even dim sum and gyosas

  • Indian curries, and vegan versions of your favorite International dishes or cultural foods

  • Stir fries, sweet and sour tofu, stir fried rice with veggies, and even vegan spring rolls

  • Holiday roasts, gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, and all your favorite sides

  • Decadent desserts including pies, chocolate cake, brownies, chocolate pudding, cupcakes, muffins and more 

All made with 100% vegan ingredients


That's it in a nutshell folks!


You can enjoy some of our delicious recipes here and in My Brownble


In a future post we'll be discussing some of those vegan gray areas (foods that don't contain animal products but the process of making them might use them), and other products and activities ethical vegans abstain from. However, you know my motto... when in doubt, or if you can't do everything... start with your plate.


Last but not least...

I want you to have all the support you need on your journey. there are so many books, movies and online videos, not to mention countless health resources, dietitians and doctors you can consult. These resources helped me tremendously and still do. What does this mean? It means we made an online library which we always keep up to date, where you can find our favorite resources to help you dig a little deeper, answer your questions or concerns, and get even more support on your journey.




***If you're a member of any of our programs or courses, you can access it through your Library*** 

 Wondering about vegan replacements, substitutions or want to share your favorite animal-based dish turned vegan? I'll see you in the comments below!


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