The question is not a matter of what vegans can eat, as much as it is; What can’t we eat? You immediately open yourself up to a world of possibilities when you consider the vegan diet. By eliminating old habits of processed foods and animal products, your eyes (and belly) have no choice but to look at plants in a new light.
Typically, a healthy vegan will eat a variety of different foods each day. Our diet stems directly from produce, legumes, and grains. The main thing about following a vegan diet is making sure you are getting all of your daily nutrients. Sometimes, becoming a vegan is what gets people to start paying attention to their daily nutrients, I know that is what happened with me.
I learned so much more about what my food can offer me after I made the switch to veganism. Before, my diet consisted of mainly pasta and chicken. I’ll even admit when I first became a vegan all I did was cut out the animal products. I was still only eating pasta and mainly junk food. This was not healthy, and I figured out quickly I had to invest time into this if I was going to stick with it.
I had to learn how to like vegetables. This was tough for me the first couple of years, I won’t lie. It wasn’t until I learned how to cook them and combine them with herbs and spices, that I learned how to love vegetables. Fruit was never an issue; I’ve always loved fruit. Everyone is different though, and no matter what there are hurdles to jump over when you change your diet. I’m here to help.
What Kinds of Foods Are on a Vegan’s Grocery List?
Whether you are a vegan or not, if you are living by a healthy diet, you will be making more frequent trips to the grocery store. Produce is not meant to last longer than a week. It isn’t packed full of preservatives, hence why it’s the healthy diet option.
Nonetheless, the vegan grocery store list typically looks a little like this: (the list below links out to the specific products I recommend!)
- Produce! Produce! Produce!
- Whatever fruits are in season is always a great start. Usually, more than one kind of fresh leafy greens will get added to the cart as well. Then things like, red bell pepper, cucumber, carrots, mushrooms and maybe some cabbage.
- Also, a helpful tip: When buying fruit, I will buy fruits that I will keep fresh as well as fruits I plan to chop up and freeze for smoothies. Buying fresh fruit and freezing it yourself, is cheaper than buying bags of pre-frozen fruit.
- Bread, of course
- I usually go for honey wheat
- Other grains that sound good, like oats for hot cereal and noodles for pasta
- Nuts and seeds
- Also seeds like:
- Tofu and other vegan meat substitutes are always nice to have
- Pro tip: You can make tofu taste like literally anything! All it takes is the right seasoning mixture.
- Quinoa is also great for protein
- When mixed with pinto beans, a serving size has more protein than a steak!
- Nutritional yeast, and herbs and spices
- Nutritional yeast is great for adding a little cheesy flavor to foods and sauces.
- Herbs and spices are a staple in the vegan kitchen, bringing every meal to life
- Coconut/almond milk is great to have
- Vegan cheese, vegan mayonnaise, vegan butter, and vegan sour cream are also always on my grocery list
This may seem like a lot, but of course, you won’t need all of this every single time you are at the grocery store. I also recommend not going overboard on produce. Only buy what you will eat within three days, then go back for more. Produce spoils rather quickly so it’s good to have some meals planned in advance. You will find that you waste a lot less food this way.
Before you freak out from the idea of not knowing what to cook, I’m going to suggest an easy to follow vegan meal plan. Complete with recipe ideas to help get you off on the right foot.
What Does A Daily Vegan Diet Look Like?
Smoothies are great for breakfast. You can pack them full of nutrients that will wake you up, and stick with you throughout the morning. If you have a juicer as well as a blender, then you open up your smoothie options.
One of my favorite smoothies is also mixed with juiced vegetables:
- Juice 3 nobs of turmeric
- A nob of ginger
- 1 ½ fresh oranges (peeled)
- 1 ½ cups of frozen pineapple
- 1 frozen banana
The possibilities and variations of smoothie ingredients are endless. All you need to remember is that frozen bananas make the smoothie have a fluffier taste rather than icy. Less banana, less thickness. If you aren’t huge on bananas, you can add walnuts to keep the same consistency.
Below I have included a recipe for a fruity smoothie, as well as one that is high in greens. Don’t worry, it still tastes fruity!
Wild Berry Smoothie:
- 1 ½ to 2 frozen bananas
- Handful of frozen strawberries
- ¼ cup of frozen blueberries
- Small handful of frozen blackberries
- ½ to 1 cup of coconut milk or almond milk (start with ½ cup)
- A scoop of almond butter
- Protein powder or hemp seeds
- Sweeten it up with vegan chocolate chips
Kale and Blueberry Smoothie:
- Handful of washed kale leaves
- ¼ avocado
- 1 ½ cups of frozen blueberries
- ½ cup of almond or coconut milk
- Protein powder or hemp seeds
- Tbsp of lemon juice
- Add a frozen banana or more kale if it isn’t thick enough
A handful of granola thrown in and you have yourself a nutritional breakfast.
As I mentioned before, I am a sucker for fruit. I will usually snack on jars of grapes, strawberries or apples throughout the day.
Lunch is when you typically should eat the heaviest meal. It is better for your digestion to eat a lighter dinner than your meal for lunch.
Any sautéed vegetable with quinoa, avocado, a handful of greens and a light sauce, is going to be great for lunch. When I sauté vegetables, I love to cook them with tamari, garlic powder, onion powder and maybe a little chili powder.
One of my favorite things before I switched to a vegan diet, was buffalo wings. This is a great meal to have for lunch. It will fill you up and keep you going through the rest of the day. They take a little while to prepare, but they are worth it!
Below is a recipe for the perfect vegan cauliflower buffalo wings:
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
- Wash and cut one cauliflower head
- In a large bowl, whisk together 1 cup water, ¾ cup almond flour, a tablespoon of garlic powder and onion powder, and salt to taste.
- Dip each floret into the bowl
- Let them soak for a minute, and make sure they are each completely covered in batter before removing
- Remove them one at a time and place onto baking sheet
- Back for ten minutes, then flip them and bake for 15 minutes
- While this is cooking, melt a tablespoon of vegan butter and mix with a cup of hot sauce
- Pull out the florets and pour sauce onto each piece
- Place back in oven for 20 minutes
- When they are finished you can add more sauce if desired
I love to eat these with a side of steamed red potatoes. Add a dash of olive oil, sea salt and fresh rosemary to taste. Mix this in the potatoes well. This is a healthier option than mashed potatoes.
A kale and spring green salad is my favorite for dinner!
Here’s how to throw one together:
- Handful of washed kale that has been massaged with olive oil and a little salt.
- Handful of spring greens
- Shredded carrots
- Diced cucumber
- Chopped cauliflower
- Hemp and pumpkin seeds
- ¼ of an avocado
- Your favorite dressing
Beyond Meat makes plant-based grilled chicken strips that fry up in a pan in about five minutes! Just add a little olive oil and let these babies cook about 2 minutes on each side on medium heat. They are the perfect addition to any salad.
If you are finding you need a little more substance for dinner than a salad, you can use these chicken strips more pasta too! Simply boil up your favorite noodles, pair it with your favorite sauce, and voila!
One of my favorite dinner recipes includes tofu:
- When preparing tofu, you first have to soak out all the moisture. I usually cut the block of extra firm tofu, in half and save the rest for later. Keep in mind you will have to eat the other half soon after, or it will go bad.
- Slice the cut block into four or five long pieces
- Place on a plate with a paper towel underneath
- Take more paper towel and press over top of your pieces
- Let this sit and dry out for about fifteen minutes
- During this time, I will throw some rice into the rice cooker and let it cook
- While all this is happening, I will stir fry some broccoli and mushrooms with my favorite, tamari sauce and pepper! These two ingredients make any vegetable tasty.
- When the tofu is dry, now you can finish dicing it up into bite-size pieces and throw in a medium heated skillet with olive oil
- Let each side cook until golden brown
- Throw in some sea salt and pepper to taste, as well as any other herbs or spices you like
When it’s all cooked you can eat them separately on a plate, or you can throw it all together in a bowl.
What Celebrities Are Vegan and What Do They Eat?
More and more celebrities are even advocating for the vegan lifestyle. Many say their reasoning for switching is because of animal rights, while others simply just want to be healthier. Celebrities like Sia, Ellie Goulding, Zac Efron, and even Meghan, Duchess of Sussex are all openly vegan.
Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth got married at the end of 2018. They are both reportedly vegan and had a very vegan wedding. Including the main dish that Cyrus couldn’t go without. A vegan twist on a classic, un-chicken and dumplings!
You can find one of my favorite vegan chicken and dumplings recipes here.
Ariana Grande is one of the biggest pop stars in the world right now. She has been a vegan since 2013. Ever since she decided to follow a vegan diet, she has been a strong activist in the animal rights community.
While she has been on tour this year, she has posted on several occasions, she and her team taking mid-show breaks to eat blueberries. Understanding they’re high in antioxidants and great for a boost of energy when you need it most!
You can find a delicious macrobiotic plant-based dinner here.
All of the vegan celebrities will agree that their vegan diet offers an abundance of nutrients that give them long-lasting energy. Food that fuels their bodies properly so they can maintain their hectic schedules without losing focus.
What Can’t Vegans Eat?
Initially, you may feel as though vegans can’t eat much of anything. As you may understand now, this is most certainly not the case. It is true that vegans don’t eat any animal, including fish. By any animal, I mean any animal. No cows, no chickens, no pigs, no Turkey, no deer, or rabbit and nothing out of the water.
We don’t eat anything that comes from an animal either. This includes all dairy products; milk, cheese, sour cream, and even mayonnaise. Vegans also stay away from eggs of any kind. Vegans are pretty much omnivores.
There are some products out there that will surprise you. Things you may think aren’t vegan when they are, and vice versa.
For instance, most beer is vegan. Some brewers will add animal-derived finings, like gelatin, to clarify the beer. Generally, British “real ale” beers are not vegan. Check out this article for more on non-vegan beers. In most cases though, beer is vegan-friendly.
Wine is a different story. Most wines are not vegan because of this fining process. Most wine companies will use a milk-based product, egg-based product or gelatin to clarify the wine.
One company that just reported having vegan wine is a vineyard in Arizona owned by the lead singer of the band Tool and Puscifer, James Maynard Keenan. Of course, he posted sarcastically on Instagram that his wines were in fact vegan after someone had asked him. He did so by posting a photo of himself (that has since been deleted) dipping a piece of bacon into one of the barrels, in typical Maynard fashion. Then clarified in the caption that his wines are vegan.
Popular vegan wines include:
Here is a list of some food favorites you wouldn’t guess are vegan:
- Duncan Hines Creamy Home-Style Frosting
- Duncan Hines Cake Mixes
- Taco Bell’s bean burrito (minus the cheese)
- Hershey’s chocolate syrup
- Chipotle Sofritas
- Betty Crocker’s Bac-O’s Bacon Flavored Bits
I’ve also made a list of foods you might think are vegan but are not:
- Worcestershire Sauce
- Margarine (usually thought to be a nice vegan butter alternative. It contains traces of whey and gelatin)
- Planter’s peanuts (are coated in gelatin)
- Sweet and sour sauce (anchovies)
- Refried beans that contain lard
There are many different forms of being a vegetarian/pescatarian. You can even reduce your meat consumption, but not entirely exclude it from your diet, and still be considered a form of vegetarian. However, there is only one way to be vegan.
What Is the Difference Between a Vegetarian and a Vegan Diet?
When I first took meat out of my diet, I considered myself a vegetarian. For many years, in fact, I still consumed dairy products as well as eggs. After all, “How else would I get my protein?” I used to say. Still, naïve. It was a great choice for me though, to be a vegetarian. I didn’t feel completely over my head in this new territory, which lead me to stick with the lifestyle.
There are a few differences between vegetarians and vegans.
A good way I like to explain it to people is this:
Vegans don’t use or consume anything that comes from something that has a face.
- Bee pollen*
- Clothing made from animals, like leather
* Honey and bee pollen are two things that some vegans will still consume. Given the devastating numbers of the world bee population, many vegans stay away from honey and bee pollen entirely. However, bees have to make honey and bee pollen is something that is created naturally just by bees living. Because of this, some vegans will eat honey and bee pollen if it is sourced from a local beekeeper. Bee pollen specifically, is a great source for protein! As well as, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
The vegan diet is not as scary as it may initially seem. When you are engrained in one lifestyle, different ways of living can cause some anxiety. Especially, when you are seriously thinking of adapting to this “different” way of living. It always helps to have support in lifestyle and diet changes. If you live with someone(s), changing your diet can become that much harder when you are the only one doing it.
There are many health benefits to a vegan diet. By no means does this diet restrict you in any way. Just because you aren’t eating or using animal products, does not mean you are restricted. The possibilities for vegan meals are endless. All you have to do is get started.
Whether you are vegan or not, you have probably noticed more and more vegan-friendly restaurants and grocery store options. This is no accident. Many cities across the U.S are adopting the lifestyle. For those that are vegan or are considering making the switch, I have put together a couple lists to point out the best vegan-friendly cities in America. A list put together with the help of a few different studies.