Many people new to veganism tend to ask: “What can vegans eat?” This vegan food list explores the many options that are available to vegans.
So, if a vegan excludes meat, fish, dairy, eggs and all other animal products from their diet, many might spontaneously ask: So, what CAN vegans eat?
Considering that the majority of a SAD (Standard American Diet) revolves around daily consumption of animal products, this is a very fair question to ask. After all, what else is left? Turns out, there’s a lot and we’ll list them below.
Find out more: What is Veganism? and A Beginner’s Guide to Vegan Nutrition
Vegans can eat grains
Grains can be considered the staple of a vegan diet.
They play a major role in all sorts of diets around the world too; it is actually quite tricky to find a cuisine that does not feature some type of grain, bread or starch as the backbone of the diet.
We’ll break down the key players for you:
- Wheat products
Wheat products are, without a doubt, the most common staple in most Western diets. The humble grain is the key ingredient behind some of the world’s favorite food: bread, pasta, and noodles. However, not all types of bread, pasta, and noodles are suitable for vegans – checking the ingredients label is always the safest way to go.
Rice is another incredibly popular staple, making for the perfect side dish as well as the star of many delicious dishes. Dishes like Burrito bowls, Risotto, Jambalaya, and Fried rice can all be made suitable for a vegan diet.
Oats are used for oatmeal, one of the vegan breakfast staples, as well as being great additions to cereals and granola.
- Everything else
The selection of grains available is incredibly varied. Vegans can also eat buckwheat, maize, millet, barley, bulgur, rye, couscous, semolina, spelt, and all other kinds of grains. Flours made out of these grains are also suitable for those following a vegan diet.
The popular superfood quinoa, which is technically a type of seed, is also a favorite vegan staple due to its high protein content.
Beans and Legumes are protein sources that vegans eat
What can vegans eat when it comes to protein-rich foods? Beans and legumes make up a large percentage of a healthy vegan diet. Some of the most common beans you’ll find in vegan dishes are black beans, garbanzo beans (chickpeas), soybeans (in the form of tofu or edamame), cannellini beans, kidney beans, mung beans, pinto, and navy beans.
Other legumes include peas and split peas, different varieties of lentils, and peanuts. Vegans should strive to consume large quantities of beans and legumes every day, preferably with every meal.
These legumes contain protein, iron, and zinc which are usually found in animal products. When making the switch from an omnivorous diet, eating large quantities of beans and legumes allows the newly vegan to meet their nutritional requirements and avoid potential deficiencies.
Do you want to find out more about vegan nutrition and the best dishes you should master for a healthy vegan diet?
Vegans eat vegetables
Now you know that vegans don’t just eat salad all day long – but what about the times when they do?
Vegetables come in all shapes and sizes, and they are essential components of a healthy, balanced diet (whether it includes animal products or not). Here are the most common vegetables vegans include in their diet:
- Root vegetables
This category includes potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, carrots, parsnips, turnips, beetroot, and many more.
- Leafy greens
Leafy greens are an absolute must when it comes to vegan nutrition, as their vitamin profile is incredibly rich. Some examples of leafy greens are spinach, collard greens, kale, chard, mustard greens, bok choi, and arugula.
- Cruciferous vegetables
Cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. These cancer-killing veggies are incredibly versatile and always fun to cook with as part of a big roast or a bake.
- Vegetables that are actually fruits!
Did you know that tomatoes, eggplants, zucchini, sweet peppers, cucumbers, pumpkins, and avocados are all scientifically considered fruits? These fruits are full of flavor and nutrition, ideal for making a wholesome vegan dish pop!
Don’t forget garlic, onions, and shallots for flavor too!
Fruit of all types
All types of fruit, fresh and dried, are suitable for a vegan diet. Some examples of delicious fresh fruit include apples, bananas, peaches, grapes, apricots, pineapple, berries, melons, oranges, tangerines, and grapefruit.
Dried fruits are also a staple that should not be missing from your kitchen: raisins, cranberries, dried apricots, dates, and figs make for the perfect breakfast toppings!
Nuts and Seeds are vegan sources of protein
Nuts and seeds are also extremely versatile. They can be consumed on their own or worked into interesting recipes such as sauces, desserts, and cheeses. Yes, vegan cheeses! Cashew cheese, for example, is one delicious option.
You can find out more in What is Vegan Cheese and How Is It Made?
Nuts like walnuts, pecans, almonds, cashews, and pistachios are extremely rich in nutrients. Don’t forget the large variety of nut butters too!
Still, seeds offer the best nutritional value per calorie. Pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, chia, hemp seeds, and flax seeds are champions of heart-healthy fatty acids.
Meat and dairy alternatives
The above ingredients are all incredibly good for you. Still, we all love indulging in some junk food every once in a while… what can vegans eat then?
Countless meat and dairy alternatives are being launched every month, one even more delicious than the other. Vegans can treat themselves to plant-based burgers, sausages, nuggets as well as vegan yogurt, butter, and a growing selection of dairy-free cheese!
Try these Quick and Easy Vegan Burgers or this Simple Vegan Fried Chicken Recipe as a start.
On the more wholesome side of vegan nutrition, plant-based milks such as soy milk, almond, and oat milk are slowly taking over and becoming the new standard.
Sauces, spices, herbs, and condiments
Then, there’s everything else you need to bring your meals to the next level.
All spices and herbs are inherently plant-based, as well as some sweet toppings such as maple syrup.
Many condiments are, surprisingly, suitable for a vegan diet. No need to give up ketchup, tomato sauce, salsa or barbecue sauce just yet! Just remember to always check the label to be 100% sure of what you are purchasing.
This list should have given you a good understanding of what vegans can eat, which is so much more beyond salad. What’s even better, is that all these ingredients can be used in almost infinite combinations, so get your chef’s hat out and start experimenting!