So what do vegans eat?
The question really should be, what don’t vegans eat?
A vegan is a person who does not eat or use animal products. Therefore, a vegan diet consists of all foods that are not derived from animals. Vegans avoid meat, dairy, and eggs.
Within the scope of veganism, there are a vast amount of diets. It can be tricky to answer the question of, “what do vegans eat?” because the variety of diets within veganism is so huge! Some vegans incorporate a lot of meat/dairy substitution products like imitation chicken and cheese, soy yogurt, etc. On the other hand, others stick to a very plant-based diet eating primarily fruits, vegetables, nuts/seeds, and legumes. Because a vegan diet only excludes animal products, many vegans enjoy things like pasta, chips, burritos, Oreo’s cookies, fries, bread, and more!
The possibilities of what a vegan eats are really as endless as the possibilities of what someone who incorporates animal products into their diet eats. While some vegans do hold strict diets, such as raw vegans and fruitarians, vegans as a whole are not limited in food options. Now a days, essentially any food can be made vegan. Some vegan meal examples are listed below!
What Do Vegans Eat For Breakfast?
- Pancakes made with egg substitute and almond milk
- Tofu scramble
- Vegetable scramble
- Toast with jam
- Cereal (Some vegan options include but are not limited to: Barbara’s Original Puffins, Cap’n Crunch,
Cap’n Crunch’s Peanut Butter Crunch, Cascadian Farm Organic Cinnamon Crunch,
Kellogg’s Mini-Wheats Unfrosted Bite Size, Kashi Organic Island Vanilla,
Kashi 7 Whole Grain Puffs, Nature’s Path Crunchy Maple Sunrise,
Nature’s Path Rice Puffs, Quaker Original Life)
- Fruit smoothie
- Parfait made with soy yogurt
- Biscuits made with vegan butter and animal-fat free gravy
- Bagel with vegan cream cheese
What Do Vegans Eat For Lunch&Dinner?
- Veggie sandwich (can include faux meats and Vegenaise)
- Burrito (beans with vegan cheese, rice, can include faux meats)
- Veggie burger with fries
- Veggie dog
- Vegetable lasagna made with vegan cheese
- Vegetable pizza with vegan cheese (or no cheese)
What Do Vegans Eat For Snacks/Dessert?
- Cake made with egg substitute and soy milk
- Brownies made with egg substitute and soy milk
- Dairy-free ice cream (Like SO Delicious)
- Nuts and seeds
- Pie with a dairy/egg-free crust
- Vegan cheesecake (like Daiya cheesecake)
Can a vegan diet be healthy?
According the World Health Organization, a healthy diet contains:
- Fruits, vegetables, legumes (e.g. lentils, beans), nuts and whole grains (e.g. unprocessed maize, millet, oats, wheat, brown rice).
- At least 400 g (5 portions) of fruits and vegetables a day (2). Potatoes, sweet potatoes, cassava and other starchy roots are not classified as fruits or vegetables.
- Less than 10% of total energy intake from free sugars (2, 5) which is equivalent to 50 g (or around 12 level teaspoons) for a person of healthy body weight consuming approximately 2000 calories per day, but ideally less than 5% of total energy intake for additional health benefits (5). Most free sugars are added to foods or drinks by the manufacturer, cook or consumer, and can also be found in sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, fruit juices and fruit juice concentrates.
- Less than 30% of total energy intake from fats (1, 2, 3). Unsaturated fats (e.g. found in fish, avocado, nuts, sunflower, canola and olive oils) are preferable to saturated fats (e.g. found in fatty meat, butter, palm and coconut oil, cream, cheese, ghee and lard) (3). Industrial trans fats (found in processed food, fast food, snack food, fried food, frozen pizza, pies, cookies, margarines and spreads) are not part of a healthy diet.
- Less than 5 g of salt (equivalent to approximately 1 teaspoon) per day (6) and use iodized salt.
What does this mean in regards to veganism?
The World Health Organization does not include any animal products in their definition of a healthy diet and supports veganism as a way of eating. Despite this, it’s a common misconception that the vegan diet lacks in important nutrients like iron, protein, and calcium. While many vegans and non-vegans alike are deficient in many different nutrients, it is entirely possible to meet nutritional needs while avoiding animal products.
Below are some examples of vegan sources of calcium, protein, and iron. Keep in mind I’ve only listed a small handful of plant-based foods. Vegans are not limited to plant-based foods and often find their nutrition along with many meat eaters in fortified foods such as cereals, pastas, breads, milk alternatives, dairy alternatives, meat substitutes, bars, and other more heavily processed foods.
Spinach – In 100 grams of spinach there is 2.9 grams of protein. This may not sound like a lot, but considering it only contains 23 calories it’s pretty impressive. That’s the calorie/protein ratio of most protein bars.
Tofu – In 124 grams there is 10 grams of protein and 94 calories.
Black Beans – In 100 grams of black beans there is 21 grams of protein. This is for 339 calories.
Edamame – 1 cup contains 17g of protein for only 189 calories.
Protein is a big concern among non-vegans. How do vegans get enough protein? Isn’t meat required to meet our protein needs? What do vegans eat that contains protein? Fruits, vegetables, nuts/seeds, and legumes contain plenty of protein to meet nutritional needs and even to support athletic pursuits.
Lentils – 1 cup of cooked lentils provides 36% of the DRV (daily recommended value)
Kale – 1 cup of chopped kale provides 5% of the DRV. A cup of kale only has 33 calories, meaning it has more iron per calorie than beef.
Pumpkin Seeds – 1 cup of pumpkin seeds contains 11% DRV.
Sunflower Seeds – 1 cup of sunflower seeds contains 41% DRV.
Pinto Beans – 1 cup of pinto beans contains 54% DRV
Many people wonder, “What do vegans eat to get enough iron?” Plenty of plant foods contain iron, especially dark leafy greens and legumes. Plant-based iron sources are most readily absorbed by the body when consuming alongside foods containing vitamin C. The iron our body’s need is easily consumable on a vegan diet.
Broccoli – 1 bunch of broccoli (approximately 600 grams) contains 28% DRV
Spinach – 1 bunch of spinach (approximately 340 grams) contains 33% DRV
Garbanzo beans – 1 cup of these beans contains 21% DRV
Calcium can be found in a large variety of plant foods, as well as fortified foods like soy milk, tofu, and cereals. So what do vegans eat to get enough calcium? Any variety of plant-foods and/or fortified foods!
What do vegans eat? To sum it up, vegans eat food.
Plant-based foods, processed foods, fast food (yes, most fast food chains offer several vegan options), healthy food, junk food…Vegans eat it all (just without the animal products).