What Do Vegans Not Eat?

Vegan wraps
Vegan wraps with plant-based protein

Vegans eat a plant-based diet but what do vegans not eat? Next time you go grocery shopping, follow these guidelines to stay vegan.

Broadly speaking, someone who identifies as a vegan will avoid eating and purchasing foods containing animal products. Still, with typical supermarket products featuring endless lists of ingredients that are hard to recognize or even pronounce, figuring out what vegans can’t eat, is not always easy.

With the term becoming so popular in the past few years, you can be assured you’re definitely not alone. That’s why we created this easy guide to help you.

Are you new to veganism? Maybe you are still a bit unsure of what you can and can’t eat. Read more at What Can Vegans Eat?

 Vegans don't eat meat but can eat plant-based meat
Vegans can eat plant-based meat

Vegans do not eat meat

Naturally, if you’re asking what can vegans not eat, the first animal product that will come to mind is the animal itself: meat. Still, the definition of meat is not always clear to everybody. Many vegans can attest to being asked the dreaded “so… do you eat chicken”? at least once after telling others about their diet.

The term meat is used to encompass all land animals. If we take into account the most common types of meat people consume on a daily basis, this means that a vegan will not eat beef, pork, chicken, turkey or duck. If we expand onto less common types of meat eaten around the world, it means that a vegan will also not consume lamb, veal, goat, rabbit, hare, horse, venison or boar.

Of course, the list goes on. People around the world, from West to East, have been consuming animals of all kinds, no matter how unusual.

Vegans do not eat fish

Next to the classic “do you eat chicken” question, vegans often get asked the classic “But, you eat fish right?” too. Fish also falls into the meat category, making it off-limits to vegetarians as well.

Still, fish is often overlooked when discussing veganism.

The fish category includes countless types of fish, some more commonly consumed than others. Some examples are salmon, cod, mackerel, tuna, halibut, trout, anchovies, tilapia, herrings, snappers, sardines, and sole. As with the varieties of meat, the list is endless, with some types of fish only consumed in certain parts of the world as opposed to others.

Seafood and Crustaceans – vegans may eat a few

When we consider sea animals that are commonly consumed around the world, seafood and crustaceans are also worth a special mention. The seafood category includes both shellfish and mollusks. The most popular types of seafood are clams, mussels, scallops, octopus, squid, oysters, and cockles.

Vegans will also not eat any type of crustacea such as shrimp, prawn, crayfish, crab, and lobster.

However, it is worth noting that seafood consumption is still a debate among some vegans. With some types of seafood considered not sentient and not able to feel pain, such as oysters, some vegans have been wondering whether their consumption might actually be suitable for a vegan lifestyle.

You can watch an insightful video on the topic here.

The vegan diet has no dairy

What differentiates vegetarians from vegans is the fact that the latter group will also choose not to eat products derived from animals. In order to avoid all forms of animal exploitation, as well as a means to avoid unhealthy products, vegans will not consume anything that is produced by animals.

Find out more: What’s the Difference Between Vegan and Vegetarian?

Dairy is a big one. Almost all meals usually consumed on a standard diet will include some type of dairy product. Just think of the big four: butter, milk, cheese, and yogurt. How often are they found in most people’s daily routine? When it comes to predominantly Western diets, dairy is a key component.

Now, you’ll also have to look at subtler, sneakier dairy components falling outside of the big four we have just mentioned. Chances are, some of your favorite snacks, such as potato chips and cereal bars, will contain traces of dairy too. Almost all standard desserts will also contain dairy: think of ice cream, cakes, pies, pancakes, and chocolate, for example.

If we move on to dressings, the list gets even bigger: mayonnaise, ranch, Caesar, aioli, honey mustard, sour cream. Traces of dairy can also be found in many popular brands of sliced bread!

Find alternatives in this Ultimate List of Vegan Breads You Can Buy at the Grocery Store

Dairy might look unavoidable, but it doesn’t have to be. Keep reading to discover what alternatives are out there instead!

Vegan don't eat dairy but can drink dairy-alternative milks
Vegans do drink plant-based dairy alternatives

Vegans don’t eat eggs of any sort

Eggs and dairy are similar in the sense that they both make up a large percentage of standard diets – most times, without us even being aware of it. Naturally, many people will think of breakfast favorites: scrambled eggs, poached egg, egg muffins and so on.

However, eggs are often found in types of batter, while egg white is an incredibly common component of protein-loaded snacks.

As with dairy, vegans should be careful when shopping by always checking labels for sneaky non-vegan ingredients.

For more information, read: Our Best Vegan Egg Substitutes


Honey, along with beeswax, is produced by bees and collected by beekeepers to be used in an array of products. Besides honey being consumed on its own as a sweetener, bee-made products are also prevalent in cereals, dressings, sweet snacks, glazes, and medication.

Find out more in Is Honey Vegan?

Other bizarre products you probably didn’t know about

What do gelatin, lanolin, carmine, and isinglass all have in common? They are all not suitable for vegans and they are all very hard to recognize as animal products. Whey and casein are also milk byproducts that are often difficult to spot.

The general rule of thumb is if you don’t know what an ingredient is, either avoid it to be safe or take a couple of minutes to research it online.

A colorful array of foods that vegans eat
Vegans eat a large variety of brightly-colored foods

So, what CAN you eat?

Finally, we come to the last, dreaded question many vegans get asked daily: “So, what can you eat”?

As it turns out, there is quite a lot of tasty food left to try.

After getting the grasp of what can vegans not eat, it’s important to remember there is a whole world of vegan food out there that is incredibly delicious and easily available! If you want to find out what vegans can and do eat, you can read What Can Vegans Eat? Or try a few of these recipes:

Breakfast – Fresh Vegan Waffles with Maple Syrup

Lunch – Quick and Easy Vegan Burgers

Treat – Simply Delicious Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Dinner – Stress-Free Vegan Lasagna Recipe

Dessert – Our Best Vegan Tiramisu Recipe