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Vegan Vegan for Beginners

What Does Vegan Mean? Definition, Foods, and More

Interest in veganism has grown exponentially over the past few years. And if I were to guess since you’re reading this that you might be wondering what all the fuss is about. So let me break it down to the basics. In this post I’ll go over what vegan means, what vegans eat, and how it differs from other terms like plant-based and vegetarian.

What Does Vegan Mean?

Veganism is a form of activism that seeks to eliminate animal exploitation in everyday life. Vegans do not purchase food, clothing, and other products made with animal ingredients or that were tested on animals.

This means, not eating food made out of animals (like meat), or made from animals (like milk). As well as not purchasing clothing made out of animal materials like leather or fur, and buying products like makeup, skincare, cleaning supplies, etc,. that are free of animal ingredients and animal testing.

Not to be confused with plant-based which is a diet that emphasizes whole foods like plants, grains, and nuts, while minimizing or eliminating meat, dairy, and processed foods. Or vegetarian which excludes meat products but not dairy or eggs.

Those who are plant-based and vegetarian don’t necessarily eliminate animal products outside of their diet. Although, some vegetarians do choose to not wear leather.

In short, veganism is an activist stance that seeks to eliminate animal exploitation through diet and purchasing choices.

What Do Vegans Eat?

Vegans eat an array of foods ranging from grains, legumes, vegetables and fruits, and nuts and seeds.

Grains are often the centerpiece of a vegan meal because of the healthful and satiating properties. Some fan favorites are, quinoa, rice, pasta, and oats.

For protein, vegans can opt for legumes like lentils, beans, or chickpeas, or something even higher in protein like soy, tempeh, or seitan.

Related: 20 Easy Vegan Protein Sources

Similarly, nuts and seeds also make a great choice of protein, as well as a great source of healthy fats.

And of course, fresh fruits and vegetables are a must-have too.

Related: The Best Vegan Pantry Staples for New Vegans

But don’t think vegans can’t have junk food. There are tons of vegan alternatives to choose from. You can find vegan cheeses, meats, butters, pastries, and more.

There are also a lot of accidental vegan foods. For example, Oreos are actually vegan!

And thanks to the growing interest in veganism, more and more restaurants and brands are offering vegan options than ever before.

What Don’t Vegans Eat?

Vegans don’t eat anything made out of animals or by animals.

This includes:

  • Meat
  • Fish and shellfish
  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Honey


Key Takeaways:

  • Being vegan means to take an ethical stance to eliminate animal exploitation in everyday life. It is a political choice, not a diet.
  • Plant-based and vegetarian are diets, but can have some overlap with veganism.
  • Vegans don’t eat or buy anything made with animals or animal ingredients.
  • Vegans also opt for cruelty-free products.



  1. Super helpful post! I didn’t realise that plant-based and vegan were two different things. I feel that everyone should be vegan with clothes & products even if you don’t want to eliminate all meat etc. I watched Cowspiracy the other night and since then I’ve decided to switch to soya milk. I already drank lactose-free but yeah. I’m unable to go full vegan and cut out eggs/cheese due to my health but I’m going to try and eat more vegan food – like maybe I’ll start by eating vegan chocolate etc. xx

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