What Does a Vegan Eat?

What Does a Vegan Eat?

Whenever someone learns that I eat a vegan (plant-based) diet, the next question is what do you eat if you do not eat animals?

Today, you will learn about the vegan food guide.  Next you will take a trip to the market with your basic vegan shopping list in hand.

Vegan Food Guide (daily plan for healthy eating)
  • Grains:  6-11 servings
  • Vegetables:  3 or more servings
  • Fruit:  2 or more servings
  • Fortified Soymilk & Alternatives:  6-8 servings
  • Beans and Bean Alternatives:  2-3 servings
  • Other Essentials (sources of):  Vitamin B12 and Vitamin D
Basic Vegan Shopping List (you do not need everything on this list)

Grain Products

  • Brown rice
  • Quinoa
  • Dry cereal
  • Mixed cereal
  • Whole grain bread
  • Pasta
  • Millet
  • Other grains
  • Oatmeal
  • Popcorn
  • Whole grain crackers
  • Wheat germ

Vegetables and Fruits

  • Fresh greens (kale, collards, broccoli)
  • Garlic and onions
  • Seasonal vegetables
  • Seasonal fruits
  • Dried fruit
  • Frozen vegetables
  • Frozen fruit

Beans and Lentils and Other Products

  • Dried legumes (navy beans, garbanzos, pinto beans, kidney beans, lentils, split peas, etc.)
  • Canned legumes (garbanzos, pinto beans, kidney beans, bake beans, etc.)
  • Prepared bean dishes such as soups and chili
  • Tofu, tempeh
  • Instant dried legume dishes (humus, soups, casseroles, refried beans, etc.)
  • Meat substitutes (veggie patties, veggie slices, sausages, veggie ground)

Nuts, Seeds and Butters

  • Nuts (raw cashews, almonds, walnuts, pecans)
  • Nut butters
  • Seeds (flax, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, hemp)
  • Seed butters (tahini)

Soy and grain beverages and related products

  • Fortified soy or grain milks
  • Vegan cheese
  • Yogurt (soy/coconut)

Herbs and Spices

  • Fresh parsley, cilantro, basil
  • Fresh ginger
  • Oregano, sage, savory, thyme
  • Chili powder or other chili
  • Cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cumin, curry, turmeric
  • Mustard (Dijon type), prepared or powder
  • Salt and pepper

Sweeteners (see Healthy Vegan Sweeteners)

  • Blackstrap molasses
  • Barley malt, rice syrup, maple syrup, agave nectar
  • Stevia
  • Jams and conserves
  • Dried cane syrup


  • Cereal grain beverages
  • Fruit and vegetable juices
  • Leaf and herbal teas
  • Organic coffee

Fats and Oils

  • Flaxseed oil
  • Virgin olive oil
  • Hempseed oil
  • Canola oil, high-oleic sunflower or safflower oils
  • Toasted sesame oil

Seasoning, Condiments and Other

  • Vegetable Support Formula Nutritional Yeast (formally Red Star Brand T 6635+)
  • Seaweed (hijiki, dulse, wakame, nori, agar)
  • Miso
  • Bragg Liquid Amino
  • Tamari or soy sauce
  • Vegetable broth powder or cubes
  • Vinegar (rice, wine, balsamic, or apple cider vinegar)

You have your basic vegan shopping list.  No more wondering what you need.  Let this list serve as a guideline.  You do not need everything on this list.  This list is a basic list of the food items you should have in your pantry.

Information source from Becoming Vegan: The Complete Guide to Adopting a Healthy Plant-Based Diet

Image: Rawich / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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About the Author

Evelyn Parham started this site in 2010. She enjoys writing, reading, and dabbling in photography and video editing. Learn more about her here.

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  1. Daily Vegan Meal Planning - A Must! | June 29, 2011
  1. stan says:

    looking at your list, I do not see one of the most edible of the Orchid family; Vanilla!

  2. ToddF says:

    Great list of items. Do you know a place to find out to cook quinoa. I bought some at a market, in Chicago, it was mixed with wheat berries and was simply delicious.


    • Hi Todd,


      You probably can find this information on YouTube.

      But quinoa is very easy to prepare. Make sure you wash it very well. Put in pot with enough water to cover the quinoa. You will know it is done after all water has been absorbed. Flavor to your taste.

      Take care,


  3. Thanks for sharing!! This is a great go-to list!!

  4. Dia says:

    Hi Evelyn,

    Excellent post on a what a vegan eats. I see grains are crucial for a vegan. Do you pay attention to the label on the food products Evelyn such as % of fat, calories etc…? I started recently looking at the labels 😉 Thanks for sharing my friend

    • Hi Dia,


      Yes, I do. But I also read labels to make sure there are no hidden animal by-products. It is always wise to read the labels. You’re doing good! 😉

      Take care,


  5. Health Blog says:

    Yes you might get this question in a country where very few people are vegans. But In a country such as India with large numbers (in some areas majority are vegetarians) of vegans you do not get to face sch a question.

  6. Henway says:

    Hey Evelyn,

    Just wondering, how many calories do you eat per day? Do you keep track or “just go with the flow”?

    • Hey Henway,

      I don’t count calories. But if I had to take a guess it would be 1600is. I am petite and small framed, so I don’t need a lot of calories. I’ve made it a practice to eat when I’m hungry and I try not to overeat. So far has weight has been stable.

  7. Leanne Chesser says:

    Excellent list! I get asked the same question quite often, especially at holiday times. I’ve had some great conversations as a result. People are just so used to meat being primary that they don’t understand until it’s explained, I think.

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