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What do vegans eat and what not?

What do vegans eat and what not? An overview for newcomers

Do you want to know what vegans are (allowed to) eat and which classic foods they can replace with plant-based alternatives and how? Whether you want to start eating vegan yourself or you're looking for cooking ideas for a vegan family member or vegan friends: you've definitely come to the right place!

This article is basically intended to be a little help for those who are just getting to grips with a plant-based diet for the first time (inevitably because their partner is vegan, for example).

You can now find out what vegans generally prefer to eat - for breakfast, for a snack, for a barbecue, in a restaurant or at Christmas. You can also find out which foods they avoid and which alternatives are generally available. Let's go!

You can find a brief overview here in advance:

  1. General
  2. Foods
  3. To classic daily meals
  4. In the restaurant
  5. At the barbecue
  6. On holidays
  7. After sport
  8. Closing words

What are veganism and a vegan diet anyway?

Motifs: Why do people live vegan?

Before we get down to business, here are a few facts that everyone should know. Founded back in 1944 in Birmingham, the Vegan Society defines veganism as "A way of life that seeks - as far as practicable - to avoid all forms of exploitation and cruelty to animals capable of suffering for food, clothing and other purposes". As you can see, it's about more than just your own diet. Veganism is a fundamental way of life for the protection of animals. However, those who eat a plant-based diet are making a significant contribution to reducing the exploitation and Cruelty to animals by humans.

About the diet: TheAmerican Dietetic Association has confirmed that aa balanced, planned vegan diet is healthy and nutritionally appropriate, health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain, nutrition-related diseases and is suitable for people in all phases of the life cycle.₁ However, it is important (especially during the transition) that you regularly check that your body is working with all essential nutrients is supplied.

The Motivation for a plant-based diet lies above all ethics (e.g. protecting animals, Fighting world hunger), ecological (e.g. Stop rainforest deforestation, Halting species extinction) as well as health motives (e.g., prevent antibiotic resistance, lower blood pressure, Prevent heart disease) is the basis.

Tip: About the essential Difference between veganism and the vegan diet I have written a separate, detailed article for you.

What foods do vegans eat and what foods do they not eat?

What do vegans eat and what not?

"Help, I have a visitor and he/she is vegan!" - relax! Just like meat eaters and vegetarians, vegans can look forward to a huge range of vegan products. Variety of drinks, fruit and vegetables, carbohydrates, proteins, fats and oils, as well as countless purely plant-based luxury foods to fall back on. A few minutes of research, as you are currently doing, and the world looks rosy again!

Good to know: Personally, I'm also vegan and continue to eat burgers, pasta, pizza, hot dogs, nuggets, cakes and all the other goodies, just without animal ingredients. Whether it's vegan cheese, plant-based butter, oat or almond milk instead of cow's milk, soy yogurt, Vegan egg substitute or dandelion "honey". There really is a plant-based substitute for everything!

The only thing that is dispensed with, but consistently, is food of animal origin. Neither body parts nor secretions from animals are consumed - either whole or as a hidden additive. However, the list of things that vegans are not allowed to eat is comparatively short. That's why I'm giving you a clear list below instead of going into the endless list of things vegans are allowed to eat.

Non-vegan food

  • Meat (also from fish and other marine animals)
  • Eggs (also caviar)
  • Milk and dairy products (e.g. yogurt and butter based on cow's milk).
  • Honey
  • All food and consumer products with animal ingredients and additives (e.g. gelatine or shellac)

Tip: The Change from (decades of) meat eater to vegan can certainly be a challenge. However, the growing variety of comparable substitutes for meat, milk etc. makes this personal change much easier these days, even if it is basically a Vegan diet without substitute products is possible.

What do vegans eat at traditional mealtimes?

What do vegans eat for breakfast, lunch and dinner?

You now know what vegans generally eat - but let's delve a little deeper into the practical implementation get started. With the following lists, I would like to give you some inspiration for vegan meals for breakfast, lunch, coffee and cake, as well as for dinner. Believe me, within no time you will find it much easier to choose your meals - whether you are cooking for yourself or for your family and friends. Not least because the internet is not short of wonderful recipes.


  • Muesli made from rolled oats, soy yogurt, fresh fruit, nuts and seeds
  • Hearty Gugelhupf with baby spinach and vegan sprinkled cheese
  • Filled pancakes with chocolate cream, fresh berries and jam
  • Bread rolls and toast with vegetable spread (e.g. eggplant, avocado) or vegan cold cuts with liver sausage (e.g. based on kidney beans or lentils)
  • Croissant casserole with plums and almonds
  • English breakfast with hash browns, vegan sausages, mushrooms and beans


  • Vegan Schupfnudeln with spinach, tomatoes and pine nuts
  • Chickpea meatballs with mashed potatoes
  • Cream of pumpkin soup with baked pumpkin seeds
  • Thai red curry with rice, peppers, broccoli and carrots
  • Pasta salad with tomatoes and arugula
  • Sweet potato kumpir with chickpea tabouleh
  • Chili Sin Carne with hulled hemp seeds
  • Tomato soup with lentil balls
  • Millet salad with chickpeas, spring onions and pumpkin seeds


  • Apple marzipan cake
  • Nut cookies
  • Muesli cookies
  • Peach cake
  • Waffles
  • Walnut cake
  • Soy cappuccino


  • Burger with patty made from sunflower mince and beans, and sweet potato fries
  • Vegan lasagna with vegan minced meat
  • Wholemeal bread with vegetable spread or bologna based on sunflower seeds
  • Stuffed eggplants with chickpeas and bulgur
  • Baguette with hummus, cucumber, tomatoes and vegan sliced cheese
  • Vegan cannelloni with spinach and ricotta filling
  • Mac and Cheese with short noodles and cashew nut-based cheese
  • Sweet potato and chickpea oven tray

Tip: If you need even more tips and inspiration for vegan and eco-friendly dishes, be sure to read our Book "Cooking for the climate" in. There you'll get that extra shot of motivating theory paired with delicious recipes to follow. You can get the book directly from the publisher here.*

What do vegans eat in the restaurant?

Enjoy vegan in restaurant

This will hardly surprise you: even in restaurants, vegans still don't eat meals "with animal involvement". And from my own experience I can tell you that basically you always get a satisfactory disheven if it wasn't on the menu card in that form.

However, in some national cuisines it is a little easier, in others a little more difficultto find these dishes. Asian, Israeli or Italian cuisine, for example, tends to be plant-based by nature, while Greek or German cuisine tends to rely on animal-based foods.

Here is a small and hopefully inspiring overview of the alternatives for you:

  • Greek: e.g. grilled vegetables, dolmades, pita bread and tomato rice.
  • Mexican: e.g. tacos, guacamole, tortilla chips and enchiladas filled with vegetables.
  • Spanish: e.g. potatoes wrapped in salt (papas), green beans with onions (judias verde) and roasted green peppers (pimientos).
  • Home-style: e.g. potato salad, chips, roasted vegetables, baked potato and salad.
  • Snack: e.g. falafel kebab, plant-based burgers, chips and grilled vegetables.

You can find a more detailed list and helpful tips in the separate article called Vegan in restaurant.

Additional Tip: The Search for vegan restaurants is not as easy everywhere as it is in Berlin, for example. However, behind the link is a great tool for finding vegan restaurants everywhere.

What goes on the grill for vegans?

What goes on the grill for vegans?

How to already grill without meat? What should be sizzling on the grill? Don't worry: vegans don't just eat salad at barbecues! Sausages, steaks, vegetables, ketchup and mayonnaise - In my experience, the filled plates of meat fans, vegetarians and vegans now hardly differ from one another in terms of appearance. Not least because of the variety of plant-based substitute products that you can buy in supermarkets or organic markets (recognizable, for example, by the distinctive vegan label) and just as easily make yourself.

Here's a list for you of all the delicious things you can throw on the barbecue as a vegan:

  • Vegetable skewers with mushrooms, zucchini and tomatoes
  • Burger patties from pea protein and beans
  • Stuffed mushrooms with almond-based vegetable cheese
  • Tofu strips with delicious barbecue spices
  • Marinated eggplant slices
  • Vegetable schnitzel
  • Grilled potato slices
  • Various grilled vegetables your choice (in a grill form)
  • Vegan meat skewers, sausages and steaks (e.g. soy- and wheat-based)

What can you offer vegans at Christmas, Easter or holidays in general?

Vegan duck with potatoes for Christmas

And what do vegans like to eat on holidays like Christmas, Easter or New Year? On such days you eat yes traditionally the meals that take a little longer to cook and therefore cannot necessarily be conjured up in the kitchen every day.

As promised, you'll also get a little inspiration to go along with it:

  • Chestnut nut roast with porcini mushroom sauce
  • Dresden hand bread filled with spinach and smoked tofu, served with vegan sour cream
  • Mushroom polenta in savoy coat with cranberry sauce
  • Apple Forest Berry Crumble With cinnamon
  • Oven galette with green asparagus
  • Colorful carrot quiche with peas, tofu and carrot greens
  • Brussels sprouts pasta with mushrooms and thyme
  • Rhubarb crumble cake
  • Wild garlic and mushroom tartelettes With garlic
  • Bread dumplings with vegan milk cream and chanterelles
  • Speculoos cake with cooked cinnamon pears

What do vegans eat after sport for energy?

A dish of kircher peas and rice

Plant-based sports nutrition is a science in itself - countless, vegan athletes are, however, living proof that Sporting success is also possible without meat, eggs and dairy products is. In order to build muscle, it is particularly important to consume sufficient amounts of Protein and amino acids essential. Fortunately, vegans also have access to an incredible variety of protein-rich foods.

Once again, I have put together some examples and inspiring ideas for you to try:

  • High Protein Pasta with soy cutlets and kidney beans
  • Protein shake with oat milk and vegetable protein powder
  • High Protein Burrito with chickpeas, dried tomatoes and beans
  • Green smoothie with banana, baby leaf spinach and juice oranges
  • Couscous salad with cherry tomatoes, rocket and walnuts
  • Red curry with rice, vegan "chicken", coconut milk and chopped tomatoes
  • Natural rice with marinated tofu and broccoli

Tip: At vegan fitness I have compiled everything you need to know about plant-based sports nutrition, vegan sports and sportswear.

What do vegans eat? Actually everything except animals and their secretions!

Vegans eat more than salad

Life changes are often difficult for most people - However, changing your diet can be relatively easy with a little motivation and the right inspiring tips. With meat, dairy products, eggs, honey and a few additives, the list of "not allowed" foods for vegans is quite sparse and clear. But what do vegans eat? Actually everything except animals and their secretions!

I very much hope that I have been able to help you with this article about food and meals on a vegan diet and provide you with the inspiration you need. Use the suggestions and ideas to surprise friends and family with your customization skills or simply to make your own Start in the vegan lifestyle much easier to make.

You now know what vegans generally eat. Do you have any questions, comments or further tips and ideas? Then I look forward to your comment!

Stay open to new things,

Christoph from CareElite - Plastic-free living

PS.: You want to use your Inspiring parents to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle? That can also be a real challenge. In the linked article, you can find out how to bring together the habits and interests of different generations as effectively as possible.

₁ American Dietetic Association; W. J. Craig; A. R. Mangels: Position of the American Dietetic Association: vegetarian diets (as of July 2009), [24.07.2020].

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* Links with asterisks are so-called Affiliate linksIf you click on it and buy something, you automatically and actively support my work with, as I receive a small share of the proceeds - and of course nothing changes in the product price. Many thanks for your support and best regards, Christoph!

Christoph Schulz

Christoph Schulz

I'm Christoph, an environmental scientist and author - and here at CareElite I'm campaigning against plastic waste in the environment, climate change and all the other major environmental problems of our time. Together with other environmentally conscious bloggers, I want to give you tips & tricks for a naturally healthy, sustainable life as well as your personal development.

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