Vegans eat plant-based foods. There’s a whole list of foods that can be imaginatively produced from plants that vegans eat. Let’s go through some of the basic plant-foods that are used when preparing a diet for vegans:
Nuts and seeds for vegans to eat
What constitutes a nut or seed? Nuts can be viewed as the fruit of a plant. They are also the seed of the plant from which they come. The hard shell around a nut doesn’t impede the sprouting process unless they are harvested and stored away from any source of moisture.
Seeds are similar to nuts in that they are plant generated and offer the opportunity of generating continued growth in the form of new generations of plants. Both nuts and seeds are an ideal fit for vegans as they’re fully plant-based.
Some nuts can be ground into a very passable flour which can be part of tasty recipes that vegans eat.
If you’re looking for a list of nuts that vegans eat, see the list:
- Almonds ( make a good flour when ground)
- Peanuts (as whole nuts or butter)
- Macadamia nuts
- Brazil nuts
- Pine nuts
There’s a list of seeds that vegans eat as seeds or the oils that are extracted from them.
- Chia seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Flaxseeds/linseeds ( These are both the same. Oil can be cold-pressed but do not heat or use for cooking)
- Sunflower seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Poppy seeds
Vegans tend to keep convenient containers of all the nuts and seeds that they eat, in their recipes, close to hand so that when a recipe is being prepared, a selection can be easily added.
Do vegans eat beans?
Vegans eat any type of bean. Beans are, of course, plant-based and provide all that’s required for vegans and their strict regime of what they eat. Beans are legumes and are one of the best sources of vegetable protein. Beans grow in pods and, in some cases, the pod can be eaten along with the beans. Typical beans or legumes that vegans eat include:
- Fresh beans
- Fresh peas
Vegans eat Tempeh
This is an ideal source of plant-based protein for vegans to eat. It’s known to be high fibred with a range of vitamins and is understood to have probiotic properties. Not only do vegans eat tempeh, it’s seen as an alternative to meat which puts it in the region for vegetarians to eat as well.
Tempeh is derived from soybeans but it’s not unusual to add other beans, grains and other flavourings. The tempeh process involves cooking the soybeans followed by a fermentation before being compressed into a solid block. This can then be sliced for vegetarians and vegans to eat.
Asking: what do vegans eat?
Vegans eat Seitan
Seitan is a relatively new but growing favourite among vegans. It’s derived from wheat and described by some as ‘whitemeat’. The wheat input mustn’t deceive anyone into thinking that this is bread. When cooked and fully prepared, it has a similarity to meat, in appearance and feel.
As for the taste, vegans, who eat this, describe it as being savory. If compared to any meat, the general view is that it’s like chicken or mushrooms.
Do vegans eat tofu?
Derived from soy milk, this is another of the best sources of protein that vegans eat. It’s also seen as a viable replacement for meat that would fit into a variety of plant-based dishes that vegans can eat. Tofu has caused some confusion among some vegans because it’s also known as ‘bean curd’. A term that leaves it with dairy connotations.
It’s important to note that pure tofu is made from soy milk that coagulates into a cheese. The process of making this cheese is similar to that of making dairy cheese but that is where the similarities end. Vegans can have confidence in eating this.
Vegans eat Lentils
Another top-ranking source of protein for vegans are lentils. Vegans find this particular pulse easier to cook than most other bean and pulse foods. They don’t need to be soaked and it’s possible to cook up something with lentils in less than 25 minutes. Split lentils will cook much faster, taking about 5 minutes.
It’s not just about what vegans eat. There are milks.
Plant milks in a vegan diet
There’s a glorious range of plant milks for vegans.
- Almond milk – this has fewer calories than dairy milk by about 50%. It can be used on breakfast cereals or in cooking. It’s gluten free but is deficient in protein and calcium. Look out for almond milk that has been fortified with protein, calcium and vitamin D3.
- Coconut milk – This is extracted from the flesh of the coconut. This is very effective in soups, curries and vegan ice-cream as it is naturally sweet. Coconut milk can also work as a coffee-creamer. It also has a place in yoghurt and will always have a place when making a vegan cheese.
- Rice milk – This is very similar to traditional dairy milk and it works well for vegans who have a nut-allergy. Made from boiling the rice, the milk tends to be thin and watery but can be used in sauces and soups.
- Soy milk – Low in fat and cholesterol, soy milk is seen as a highly nutritional alternative to traditional dairy milk, by vegans. However, it is totally deficient in calcium. There are brands of soy milk that have been fortified with calcium, protein and a range of vitamins.
- Oat milk – Seen as an important source of vitamin D for vegans, oat milk is easy to make by mixing with water and allowing it to soak for a few minutes before straining it through a cheesecloth. It has a cream-like texture, making it ideal for smoothies, coffee-creaming and a whole load of cooked recipes.
Vegans eat seaweed
Seaweed is being described as a ‘nutritional pillar’ for vegans. It contains a list of elemental components that are needed for a viable diet that excludes meat. These include: potassium, magnesium, iodine, calcium and zinc.
Nutritional yeast for vegans
Nutritional yeast is mainly used in vegan dishes as a flavouring for some of the, it has to be said, bland components that have to be used to fit with what vegans eat. It can be called nutritional because it’s often fortified with a range of elements that compensate for deficiencies in certain areas of a vegan’s diet.
The fortification of nutritional yeast would typically include Vitamin B12 together with potassium, folate and iron.
Sprouted & fermented plant material
Fermented plant material takes us into the world of probiotics and a way to improve digestion. Many take the view that this type of food can have medicinal properties that can prevent inflammation among other ailments.
Almost any vegetable material can be fermented, given the right conditions but if you want the benefit of including probiotics in your vegan diet, quickly, go to the supermarket and get a jar of sauerkraut which is fermented cabbage, kimchi also fermented cabbage with a load of other things, or a bottle of kombucha which is fermented tea.
Vegans eat whole grain foods
There’s nothing more plant-based than whole grain food. Vegans eat anything made from wheat, including seitan; the wheat gluten, rice, brown or white and quinoa. All of these have a measure of protein, although varied, that will contribute to a vegan diet.
Vegans eat mushrooms
There’s been some debate as to whether mushrooms are animal or vegetable but the matter appears to be settled. Mushrooms are a fungus and that places them in a category on their own. There’s been some suggestion that some fungi eat animals. There may be occasions where certain types of fungi live on animals as skin parasites but mushrooms don’t come anywhere near this.
There isn’t a huge amount of food value in mushrooms but they carry a taste that works with most dishes that vegans like to eat.
All fruits and vegetables for a vegan diet
This is the base of a vegan diet. All inputs for vegans must be plant-based and this will include all types of fruit and vegetables. Most of the nutrients that we need can come from a vegan diet of fruit and vegetables. However, the message needs repeating that there may be a short-fall of needed elements which include calcium, iron and vitamin B12.
What do vegans eat on a normal day?
What do vegans eat for breakfast
- Tomato and mushroom pancakes
- Mango and coconut smoothies
- Any green smoothie
- Beans and avocado on toast
Much of the diet that vegans eat is made up of fruit and vegetables. This provides a high fibre plain of nutrition with an intake of vitamin C and folate. This, however, restricts vegans from a range of other vitamins and minerals. One essential vitamin that vegans miss is B12. In non-vegans this vitamin is provided, in abundance, from meat, milk, eggs and cheeses.
It may be possible for vegans to gain vitamin B12 from breakfast cereals that have added vitamins from a suitable source but most vegans resort to taking B12 in a supplement form.
What do vegans eat for a vegan snack
Soya yoghurt appears to be a favourite for vegans to take as a snack. Eating little-and-often is part of the vegan mantra but there has to be something of value in whatever vegans eat.
What do vegans eat for a vegan lunch
Here’s a range of lunch choices that vegans turn to, which we’ve discovered. As you would expect, salads make up a high proportion of what vegans eat.
- Bean, cherry tomato and onion salad
- Tomato and carrot salad
- Tortilla croutons on a Mexican salad
- Chickpea salad
- Pearled spelt salad with beans or peas
- Japanese noodles with an agreeable dressing
- Bean and coconut soup
Lunch time, as vegans, needn’t be boring.
What do vegans eat for a vegan dinner
- Lentil lasagne
- Vegetarian casserole
- Spinach curry with tomato and chickpea
- Vegetable-only Thai curry
- Quinoa stew with pomegranate, squash and prunes
The vegan dinner is a chance to top up with a variety of foods that contain much needed proteins. A solid range of high-protein vegetables will help with this and provide a source of iron in a vegan diet.
What to look for when shopping for vegan food
- See what’s on the labels of what you’re thinking of buying. This is particularly important when looking at cooking ingredients like powders, spreads, sauces and stock cubes. You may find that they include undesirable components like lactose, casein and whey which are extracts of dairy milk.
- Think twice about wines and beers. Some non-vegan beers and wines may have involved animal products during the making of them. The same may be likely with vinegars. Look for clear indications that the products are compatible for vegans.
- Pastries and breads sometimes have butter or milk in their recipes.
What do vegans eat that are substitutes for meat?
There are substitutes for meat,fish and poultry that vegans eat
In the 1960s a meat substitute was developed that today’s vegans can eat. It was and is known as Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP). Its base-compound is soy flour which has been left over from the soy oil production. The process involves using solvents to remove fats, leaving a high-protein, low-fat material.
This product from soy flour can then be formed into shapes that can resemble meat.
Seitan can produce a meat substitute
Seitan is wheat gluten which is the protein component in wheat. A passable meat-form can be achieved by mixing water with wheat-flour to dissolve out the starch. The remaining wheat gluten or seitan can be shaped into a firm and chewable material that has some flavour but it can be enhanced by the addition of soy sauce or other marinade flavourings.
You can buy a usable form of seitan, for vegans, in supermarkets. It’s generally available as slices or chunks. Seitan provides a high source of vegetable protein. It’s low in carbohydrates and holds a good measure of iron.
Vegans can use mushrooms as meat
Many consider that mushrooms have a meat flavour due to the umami factor which gives them their savory flavour. A favourite for this is the large portobello mushrooms which can be treated almost like a slab of meat which can be boiled, grilled or cut up and fried.
Mushrooms, although ideal for vegans, are low in protein. They have few calories but are high in fibre.
Jackfruit for vegans
The jackfruit can be found growing in South East Asia, Africa and Brazil. The flesh of jackfruit is firm enough to be likened to the meat of chicken or pork. The flavour of unripe jackfruit is almost non-existent which leaves it open, like a canvas, that can be filled with flavours of sauces and seasonings that fit the desired taste.
Described as having a stringy texture, jackfruit are popular when plied with barbecue sauce. All of this is good news for vegans. The unripe jackfruit can be sliced and, when cooked, will provide a very passable meat substitute.
Ripened jackfruit performs differently. As with most fruits when they ripen, jackfruit will taste sweet and can be eaten as a dessert.
Substitute meat with beans and other legumes
Beans and legumes are plant-based proteins that needn’t cost too much. There’s a wide range of beans to choose from, all of which fit with the vegan profile and often make up a large part of what vegans eat.
Some experimenting may be necessary when selecting beans for specific recipes. It’s a question of which beans go with which added flavourings in the full cuisine of the day.
It needs to be pointed out that vegans can get a good source of plant-based protein from beans and legumes but they don’t provide some needed amino acids. On the plus side they provide a source of available iron and they are high in fibre.
Meat substitutes are available for vegans to eat. Here’s a selection of brands to look out for but they may not all be in your region.
- Beyond Meat – Look out for the Beyond Burger
- Gardein – Make a range of meat substitutes
- Tofurky – Known for their Thanksgiving, deli slices, sausages and ground meat.
- Yves Veggie Cuisine – For a range that includes sausages, deli slices and burgers.
- Lightlife – One of the longest-established providers of a range of meat substitute products
- Boca – Provide a range of meat substitute products but not all vegan.
- MorningStar Farms – These don’t major in producing all vegan products but they do supply vegan burgers.
- Quorn – These use some interesting biology that involves making meat proteins by fermenting soil-based fungus.
What do vegans eat that improves health?
Are there health benefits from eating vegan?
No one here can speak with authority on this but asking around, there’s advice to be had from those who claim to know.
Here’s what we’re being told:
“ Most of the nutrients we need can come from a balanced vegan diet but all vegans need to consider taking supplements. This may be particularly so when acquiring vitamin B12.”
“To get the right level of nutrients from a vegan diet does require planning. Focus on including foods that contain Calcium, Iron and vitamin B12.”
To find out more about the benefits or otherwise of the vegan diet and what vegans eat, see what the NHS (in the Uk) have to say on the subject.