Veggie Chef: What Do Vegans Eat?

Jan 5, 2015

What do vegans eat? The short answer is everything except animal products. Every kind of vibrant vegetable, great grain, fresh fruit, sumptuous seed, lovely legume, herb and pure spice is available for your eating pleasure.

We’ll go over specifics meal by meal, but the real answer is that this lifestyle is far less limiting than you may think. If you’re new to veganism, you’ll likely find yourself cooking more creatively than ever before – just don’t be afraid to experiment.

Some general guidelines:

  • Eating closest to the source is not only better for you, but it helps avoid unpleasant non-vegan surprises.
    • For example, a banana, mango or potato is vegan, but when mixed in a product with loads of ingredients, it is harder to tell if it is vegan or not.
  • That being said, lots of products you can find on the shelf are vegan.
    • Some will actually say so (but it is often in small type).
    • Look at the allergen statement at the bottom of the ingredient list for eggs and milk

Some items to avoid:

  • casein/caseinates (in all forms)
  • diacetyl
  • ghee
  • lactalbumin, lactalbumin phosphate
  • lactoferrin
  • lactose
  • lactulose
  • rennet casein
  • tagatose
  • whey (in all forms)

Vegan Products - I’ve personally tasted these and they’re pretty good… ☺

Cheese – Daiya shreds and nutritional yeast flakes

Cream cheese – Go Veggie Brand cream cheese alternative

Sour cream – Tofutti Brand “Better Than Sour Cream”

Butter – Earth Balance Brand Natural Buttery Spread

Chicken – Boca Organic “Chick’n” Patties and nuggets

Ground meat – Boca organic veggie ground crumbles

Yogurt – Almond Dream

Ice Cream – So Delicious brand (coconut milk based)

Coffee Creamer – So Delicious brand or organic canned light coconut milk

Lunch meat – Tofurky slices (I like Hickory)

Mayo – Follow Your Heart brand Original Vegenaise

Milk – So Delicious Coconut Milk or almond milk


Smoothies are a great way to knock out 3-4 servings of fruits and veggies right at the beginning of your day. They are also readily adaptable to your individual tastes and easy to make. The smoothie below is mild tasting  (I don’t like strong tastes first thing in the morning except for my coffee) but full of nutritious goodness.

Morning Happiness (serves 1)

1 medium frozen banana

½ a peeled mango

½ inch piece peeled ginger

1 small chopped carrot

1 cup kale*

1 TB chia seeds**

1 cup almond or coconut milk (or whichever non-dairy milk you prefer)

Break banana into four or five pieces and throw into blender followed by everything else. Let it all sit for a few minutes to soften chia seeds before blending.

Other smoothie combos to try (all w/your favorite vegan milk as needed for consistency):

  • Apple, carrot, ginger, spinach
  • Frozen blueberries, banana, mango, kale
  • Banana, mango, radish, fig, hemp hearts
  • Banana, peach, kale, hemp hearts
  • Banana, blueberries, peach, spinach, chia seeds
  • Strawberries, pineapple, mango, apple, chia seeds
  • Other options for breakfast:

  • Oatmeal with cinnamon, slivered almonds, diced apple and maple syrup
  • Grits (made w/water) – try stirring in some vegan cream cheese, sea salt and pepper
  • Cereal w/sliced banana and almond milk
    • Nature’s Path Flax Plus (flavors include Maple Pecan Crunch, Pumpkin Raisin Crunch, Red Berry Crunch and Raisin Bran flakes)
    • Back to Nature Granola
    • Cap’n Crunch Peanut Butter Crunch
    • Kashi GOLEAN Crisp Toasted Berry Crumble (and most Kashi Cereals)
    • Many cereals are vegan – just check the label!
  • “Everything” Bagel w/avocado and Tofurky slices
  • Leftovers from dinner – there are no rules saying that breakfast must be comprised of “breakfast” foods


Wraps are portable and easy to pack in a lunch. The one I make most often is comprised of greens, hummus, peppers, olives, mustard and sriracha (hot chili sauce).

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

1 15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1 clove garlic, peeled

1 tsp ground cumin

juice from half a lemon

1/3 cup roasted red pepper

1 TB nutritional yeast

¼ cup olive oil

salt to taste

Place all ingredients in food processor scraping sides as needed. Makes 2 cups. Tastes even better the next day!

Other ideas for wraps:

  • Black refried beans, avocado, lime juice and hot sauce
  • Spinach, Cannellini beans, alfalfa sprouts, banana peppers, balsamic vinaigrette
  • Vegan cream cheese, spinach, Tofurky slices, mustard, red onion

Salads are also great for lunch. I’m not talking about wimpy iceberg lettuce and some tomatoes. I’m talking about robust greens, beans, homemade dressing, seeds and anything you wish to add.

Jar Salad

Grab a mason jar with a lid and layer as follows:

  • Dressing
  • Avocado (make sure avocado is actually in the dressing to avoid browning)
  • Beans
  • Onion/bell peppers
  • Cooked grains/pasta (leftover wheat couscous, rice)
  • Greens (kale, spinach, mixed dark greens)
  • Dried fruit (currants, cranberries)
  • Seeds/nuts (pumpkin seeds, almonds, pecans)

When you’re ready to eat, dump jar into bowl and enjoy!

Wilted Kale Salad

Tear a bunch of kale into bite-sized pieces and massage with 1 TB olive oil and half a teaspoon salt until it turns dark green. Add chopped avocado, the bean of your choice and pumpkin seeds. Top with your favorite dressing.


Have you ever been at a restaurant and thought “I can make a meal of the sides?” Why put the veggies on the side? Make them the main event at your house. You can make dinner completely in the oven by making roasted sweet potatoes, cabbage and/or cauliflower and baked tofu.

Other dinner ideas:

  • Dried pasta (ziti, rotini, fetuccini), pasta sauce (organic roasted garlic is particularly good), navy beans, and Boca crumbles
    • Top w/vegan parmesan-style topping and serve w/simple green salad
  • Sloppy Joes
    • Easy version – My recipe for lentil sloppy joes
    • Easier - Fantastic World Foods mix
  • Try a new recipe from one of the books or websites listed under Resources.
  • Go out to eat!
    • Thai
      • Try Tofu or Veggie Pad Thai (ask them to hold fish sauce)
      • Many curry dishes can be made vegan by subbing veggies or tofu for the meat and asking them to leave out fish sauce
    • Sushi
      • Get vegetable sushi (obviously) and ask them to leave off any mayonnaise based sauces.
      • Enjoy w/miso soup and some seaweed salad
    • Mediterranean
      • Baba Ganoush
      • Hummus
      • Eggplant Salad
      • Vegetarian Kabobs
    • Chinese
      • Vegetable Lo Mein
      • Vegetable Fried Rice (minus the egg)
      • Any dish of vegetables, tofu and bean curd with rice


Isa Chandra Moskowitz

  • Her books, Veganomicon, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, Vegan with a Vengence and more
  • Her website,

Veg News

Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine

  • All recipes vegan and vetted by health care professionals

Vegetarian Times

Skinny B*tch books

  • Bad words, good advice
  • Great resource for vegan dieters

My Fitness Pal

Blogs I like: