Veganism means different things to different people, so let’s dive into the question: “What is a vegan diet?”
Veganism usually refers to the choice of excluding meat, eggs, dairy products, and all other animal-derived ingredients from your diet, or (as much as possible), other consumer goods. In this article, we will be referring to a vegan diet specifically.
There is a misconception that a vegan diet mainly consists of salads and uninspiring bowls of vegetables. Opting for a vegan diet doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice the things you loved before. You can still make all your old favourites by making simple swops and adjustments to the recipes.
Vegan diets are becoming more popular than ever, and we suspect it’s because of an increased awareness of the health and environmental benefits that are associated with eating more plant-based. Some of that could be the result of recent documentaries that have shed light on the impacts of eating meat and other animal products, such as Game Changers (2018), What the Health (2017), Cowspiracy (2014), and Forks Over Knives (2011).
Whatever your reasons are for wanting to follow a vegan diet, we hope this article will clarify any confusion around what to eat and what not to.
What shouldn’t vegans eat?
The easier question to answer is not, “what can vegans eat”, but rather, what can’t they? A vegan diet excludes animals and their by-products. That means that vegans usually don’t eat:
- Dairy products
Vegans also avoid eating products that contain animal-derived ingredients. Some common animal ingredients that vegans watch out for include:
- Gelatin (which is used in many sweets)
- Egg wash (usually on the outside of baked goods)
- Natural flavours derived from meat or dairy (usually found in convenience foods like crisps).
Can vegans eat something that “may contain” milk or other animal products?
This is a frequently asked question, and even within vegan circles, we sometimes see this issue being debated. It depends on the person, but the majority of vegans tend to agree that if a product doesn’t have milk in the ingredients, but is labelled as “may contain milk” or “may contain traces of milk”, it’s suitable for vegans. This usually means it was made in a factory where dairy products are produced, but the product itself isn’t made with milk as an ingredient. These labels are important to people with dairy allergies.
So, what do vegans eat?
After reading the list of things vegans can’t eat, you may be thinking that this vegan diet thing seems a little extreme. But if you made a list of every possible ingredient in existence, most of them would be vegan already! Here are just a few of the thousands of vegan foods on this earth, which vegans can and do eat:
- Any fruit and vegetable, from spinach to lemon to eggplant!
- Grains and grain-based foods, like rice, bread, pasta, and tacos.
- Pulses like chickpeas, lentils, and beans.
- Meat, dairy and egg alternatives – they are available at more stores than you’d think!
- Nuts and seeds, such as almonds, pumpkin seeds, and cashews.
- Mushrooms – these can make a great centrepiece of a dish
- Oils, vinegars, and fermented foods like olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and kimchi.
- Herbs and spices
- Condiments and sauces such as tomato sauce, soy sauce, and BBQ sauce.
- And anything else that’s made of plants – there’s tons of vegan junk food out there! Like Oreos, most crisps, popcorn, etc.
Some vegan meal ideas:
To help you get started, here are some simple meal ideas that are super easy to veganise:
- Cereal and plant-based milk
- Toast and jam/ peanut butter/ hummus/ avo
- Oats and plant-based milk
- Fry’s Sausages, hashbrowns, fried tomato and grilled mushrooms
- Wraps with meat alternatives or falafels and salad
- Sandwiches (try avo, hummus, vegan cheese, tomato, etc)
- Pastas (you can replace cream with coconut cream or vegan cream)
- Salads (add couscous, seeds or meat alternatives to keep them interesting – try this recipe to start)
- Jacket potato and beans
- Soups and bread
- Instant noodles
- Vegan curries (a lot of curries are vegan already)
- Stir Fry
- Veggie burgers (try this recipe)
- Lentil dal and rice
- Vegan spaghetti bolognese
- Lentil cottage pie
- Buddha Bowls (try this recipe)
- Fry’s pies and chips
- Hearty vegan stew
- Thai curry with veg/tofu
- Quinoa bowls
- Fry’s Sausages, mash, and onion gravy
For more vegan recipes, head over to our recipes page.
<h3>Vegan Foods are Everywhere! </h3>
Almost every supermarket stocks a vast assortment of vegan foods. And a good natural foods store offers even better options. Most carry a nice assortment of vegan meat alternatives, milks, and cheeses. You can find Fry’s in selected Morrisons, Holland & Barrett, Sainsbury’s, Iceland Foods and Tesco stores or online here. Most natural food stores even sell at least one vegan alternative for every popular non-vegan food—cream cheese, mayo, eggs, you name it. And your options will only improve as time goes by, since vegans are increasing in numbers, and this doesn’t look to be declining any time soon.