What does a vegan eat? We are often asked what we eat as vegans and how we get our vegan protein! We’ve put together this mini starter guide on How To Go Vegan and What Vegans Eat.
If you're looking for more detailed guidance on making plant based eating easy, without the overwhelm, we have a FREE guide of our top Secrets and Tips - you can get it here!!
(hint: the vegan diet is not just salad and goji berries - we’ll be showing you everything from curries, burgers, cakes to omelettes and soups!).
Here you'll find information on:
- What you can eat, and what you can't eat
- What to eat instead of meat, fish, dairy and eggs
- What to have in your cupboard at home for easy vegan cooking
- Where to go from here and your next steps!
If you want more inspiration and tips, AND to have Louise and I answer your specific plant based questions, please join our Facebook group, How To Go Plant Based! It’s for anyone no matter where you are in your plant-based journey.
Heads up! This post contains affiliate links which are always indicated, but we only endorse brands and products we really love. We'll earn a little commission from qualifying purchases. This keeps us creating vegelicious content 🙂
What can I eat if I'm vegan or plant based? What can't I eat?
Basically, if you’re vegan or plant-based, you don’t eat anything that comes from an animal. So this means no meat, fish, eggs or dairy, and also no honey (although some vegans may still have some honey - you do you!). Some people may just choose to cut down on those products as opposed to eliminating them completely - it’s up to you what you do and it’s your journey.
If you’re vegan or plant-based, you eat anything that comes from plants. This doesn’t just mean vegetables on a plate. Things you may have thought of as having meat, fish, dairy or eggs in, can be made vegan. This is everything from burgers, cakes, burritos, curries, fry-up breakfasts and kebabs, as well as incredible ways you might roast, steam, or make a salad out of vegetables. This doesn’t mean everything is healthy of course; as a general rule, if you’re eating whole foods (so non-processed foods) and mostly staying away from refined sugars then you’re fine!
Supermarkets and health food shops now have huge amounts of fake meat and other vegan products (some very processed, other less so - always read the labels), but it is useful to know that you don’t have to buy these products to be vegan. You can make pretty much anything, and much of it very easy to make. Let’s go through meat, fish, dairy and eggs separately to break down what you might eat instead of each.
Essential information that will help on your journey can be found in some of our other blog posts e.g.
- Our guide to Vegan Protein Sources and high protein vegan recipes
- A Round-Up of the Best Vegan Breakfasts from scrambled tofu, to muffins and pancakes!
- The Top 20 Easy Vegan Meals in Under 30 Minutes
What do I eat instead of meat as a vegan?
There are so many incredible vegan and plant based recipes out there, so you don’t even have to directly replace meat. Maybe you’ll just want to make a delicious pasta dish with white beans and kale.
If you want to try some direct replacements, you can pick up vegan burgers and sausages from the supermarkets (a popular brand is Beyond Meat). However, there are incredible burgers you can make out of beans and / or soy products like these Ultimate Vegan Blackbean & Mushroom Seitan Burger.
There are many natural ingredients that make food taste ‘meaty’. For example, to make koftas, curries, ‘meaty’ stews and even tofu ‘steaks’, you can use beans, lentils, jackfruit (a very popular fruit that can be used instead of pulled pork), tofu, tempeh (a fermented soy product), and seitan (wheat gluten). In addition, many of these products are packed with vegan protein!
What do Vegans eat instead of fish?
More vegan fish alternatives are popping up on the market (you can find vegan fish fingers in supermarkets and health food shops), and there are some brilliant recipes. Often it’s about the texture or fishy flavour. Some of our favourite fish recipes are:
- My ‘Crab’less crab cakes have that stringy crab texture from artichokes, and I use seaweed in for that fishy/sea flavour. Seaweed is also full of iodine (an essential mineral).
- Louise’s Vegan Prawn Toasts for that ‘fakeaway’ treat!
- For a tuna sandwich, Louise also does an incredible Vegan Chickpea ‘Tuna’.
Finally, if you’re looking for a fish sauce replacement for vegan and plant-based cooking, try Fish Vegan Fishless Sauce (affiliate link).
What do Vegans eat instead of dairy, cheese and milk?
There are so many great dairy replacement products on the market now from vegan icecream (even Ben & Jerry’s has dairy-free versions) to incredible vegan chocolate (chocolate comes from a plant after all!) and cakes. Dairy-free vegan plant-based cooking is a breeze. If you usually cook with butter, just use a bit of olive oil or coconut oil (this also works for cakes).
We are big cake lovers. Some of our favourites vegan cakes:
- Vegan Chocolate Cake with Vegan Chocolate Ganache
- Lemon and Blueberry Cheesecake (made with cashews, silken tofu and vegan cream cheese!).
- If you’re totally chocolate mad, check out our round-up of the best vegan chocolate recipes from across the web!
You will likely have seen all the dairy-free and plant-based milk available in supermarkets from oat, hemp, almond and soya, to rice, hazelnut and tiger nut. Best to test which you like most, and these can also be used in cooking.
Of course, we have to mention vegan cheese! It has come such a long way. There are some incredible brands now like Follow Your Heart (who even do cheese that can melt), or if you’re after the artisan stuff, we did the hard work in reviewing some delicious cheeses as a Christmas Vegan Cheeseboard!
How do I replace eggs as a vegan?
Vegan and plant-based egg substitutes are much easier than you think. There are vegan egg alternatives for everything from breakfast time scrambled tofu, to cakes, pastry, burgers, patties, pancakes, fritters and frittatas. There’s even incredible vegan mayonnaise - our favourite brand is Follow Your Heart (affiliate link) but you can also make your own.
Want to know the key vegan and plant-based egg substitutes, including easy recipes? Then check out our blog post on Key Vegan Egg Substitutes.
What do I need in my cupboard if I’m vegan or plant-based?
You may have looked at recipes and thought, I just don’t have that in my kitchen! You can slowly stock up your cupboards with food (and there are more simple recipes out there with less obscure ingredients)!
For a full list of cupboard essentials, we’ve detailed them in this Vegan Kitchen Cupboard Essentials post. But some of the top ones are:
- soy sauce or tamari (tamari is gluten-free)
- herbs and spices, beans and legumes
- nutritional yeast (affiliate link) (for that nutty cheesy flavour)
- vegan stock powder (affiliate link).
Where do I go from here?
So now you have the basics of “What does a Vegan Eat”, explore some recipes, and have a go at some cooking. We’ve got a whole section on Quick & Easy Vegan Meals.
There’s always support, and Louise and I can help you personally - join our Facebook group How To Go Plant Based, for inspiration, tips, recipes and support (we can answer your questions personally to help you on your journey).
Love Vanessa x