What Won’t Vegans Eat?

You may be wondering – ‘What can’t vegans eat?’

Actually, it’s more WON’T than CAN’T.

Veganism is a way of living that attempts to exclude all forms of animal exploitation and cruelty, be it for food, clothes, products or any other purpose. It involves the understanding that we can live a happy, healthy and fulfilled life without causing harm to other creatures. Unfortunately, there are whole industries built for the exact opposite – profit over principles. We’ve all funded these dark businesses (albeit unintentionally or unknowingly) throughout our lives. But the good news is it’s so easy to stop!

Food is a great place to begin. If you’ve read our page ‘What Will Vegans Eat?‘ then you’re already off to a great start. There’s a huge amount of choice out there that’s cruelty free. There are vegan alternatives for everything listed below, so please don’t feel restricted.

But what about the things that vegans won’t eat? We’ve compiled a list of the things that are non-vegan, with a brief, non-graphic explanation of why. Read on!

vegan food shopping

There’s more to food shopping than meat, eggs and dairy – just check out this vegan food haul

  • Meat. The obvious one! This is ANY meat not labelled vegan. It should be very, very clear if it’s faux meat or not. Vegans believe that flesh belongs on a living, breathing, pain free animal. It’s not ours to purchase or use. FACTS: animals feel pain, even humane meat suffers, no animal wants to die.
  • Fish and seafood. This is exactly the same as meat, and includes crustaceans such as mussels and oysters. The only reason we put it as a separate point, is because sometimes people get confused and try to claim that fish / sea animals don’t feel pain or are somehow less worthy beings than those on land. Not true. Many studies have proven that fish feel pain, form relationships, and most importantly, don’t want to be killed and eaten.
  • Dairy – anything made with the milk of an animal. This includes traditional milks, yoghurt, cheese, cream​ and butter. Traces of milk can be found in anything, from crisps to pastries, so do check labels to be sure. The reason why vegans oppose the dairy industry is its exploitation of animals on such a severe scale. If we focus on cows for example, they are forcibly impregnated, have their calves taken away at birth, are kept in terrible conditions, and forced to produce far higher quantities of milk than is natural or comfortable. This cycle is repeated over and over until the cow can no longer become pregnant / produce milk… she’s then killed. In terms of health, the milk of other species is simply not meant for us. Cows milk has a specific nutrient make-up, with high fat content designed for calves who put on rapid weight in their first few months of life.
  • Eggs – from hens, fish or any other animal. Eggs come from a terrible industry. Birds in cages so small they cannot stretch their wings. Chickens that won’t see the sun until the day they are killed. Millions of day-old male chicks thrown into grinders or gassed because they are commercially useless. All of this just so we can eat a product that’s high in cholesterol anyway.
  • Honey and bee pollen. Any bee products are off the table
    bees in hive making honey

    Honey belongs to bees

    for us vegans. Disease is rife in hives, and the insects are forced into unnatural behaviours while we steal their produce. Simply put, these items come from exploitation.

  • Gelatine. Made by boiling the bones and hides of animals… lovely. This crafty ingredient sneaks into a number of things, such as sweets and jelly. You can often tell if it’s non-vegan as the ingredients list will state pork or beef gelatine. The goods news is that you can find vegan gelatine, made from agar agar or carrageenan. It should be stated on the pack which one it is.
  • Lard and animal fats. As these are products are directly from animals, they’re off the list for vegans. Look for items with healthy oils instead.
  • E numbers*. These are the scientific looking numbers on labels that help to flavour, preserve or enhance a food in some way. Some E numbers are suitable for vegans, but some aren’t. When you’re ready, start to become familiar with the non-compliant ones.
  • Some alcohol*. Isinglass is often used to make beer or wine. It’s a substance from fish bladders, and really quite unnecessary to use. Alcohol can be just as tasty without it!

*We go into more detail on E numbers, alcohol and other nasties on our Hidden Ingredients page.

reading food labels in the supermarketReading and interpreting labels may be tricky at first, but after a few months the process will become quicker – we promise. Don’t be disheartened if you fail to spot a non-vegan ingredient and therefore purchase the wrong thing, it’s a learning curve! For ease, look for products that explicitly state ‘suitable for vegans’ or do an online food shop so that you can filter for vegan products that way. You can visit stores that are well known for catering for vegans, such as Holland and Barrett and Ocado. If you need help spotting non-vegan foods, head over to our Hidden Ingredients page.

Vegans aren’t perfect. We can be mis-informed in a restaurant. We can forget to check the label on something that we’ve eaten for years, not knowing it now contains milk. Despite the best of intentions, we can make mistakes. It’s important to recognise that it’s ok – we’re only human after all, not robots! It doesn’t make us any less vegan or ethical, as long as we do things with intent, and consciously refrain from taking part in animal exploitation.

As a new vegan, there will be a learning curve for you. Focus on cutting out the obvious and as you become more educated and comfortable, work your way down the list above and adapt to your new lifestyle. You may find at first that you’ll be checking a lot of labels, googling every day, but don’t worry, it will soon become second nature! You’ll find delicious staples for your diet and discover new foods.

Do you have any questions? Want to know if anything is vegan or not? Ask us below!

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  • I love connecting with people and getting results for them. It's such a good feeling to watch new vegans hit their goals!⁠
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I'm a huge advocate for coaching. When I decided to eat more healthily, I hired a plant-based coach and embarked on a group program. It changed my mindset, habits, and explained everything in such a simple way. I fully committed to it and HIT my own goals - 28lb weight loss, improved mental health, less tiredness... the list goes on!⁠
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That's why now I offer my own form of coaching, for those new to veganism. Together, we figure out solutions and transformation just for YOU. It's all about getting you on the road to veganism!⁠
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Is 121 coaching right for you?⁠
YES, if:⁠
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  • ⭐️ Keeping Organised as a New Vegan ⭐️⁠
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As a meat-eater, it was probably easy to get by without thinking about meals in advance. You could grab a snack from wherever, or grab takeout on the way home. But thinking in advance helps us all out. It means we eat more healthy, save money on random snacks and meals, and can do some time-saving meal prep in advance!⁠
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⭐️ Consider where you will be for the next few days at mealtimes, and plan accordingly. Factor drinks and snacks in too – I always have an extra something stashed in my bag, just in case I’m out later than usual! ⁠
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⭐️ If you’re somewhere new, looking up restaurants online beforehand can help. Check out Tripadvisor – just enter ‘vegan-friendly (TOWN)’ in their search bar, and you should easily find where the plant-based people are going. Then you can narrow the options right down to your path of driving or walking. HappyCow Vegan Guide is also a great website that pinpoints vegan options near to you. It’s available as an app and will show you vegan stores and cafes too.⁠
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⭐️ If you’re just looking to grab and go, see where popular chains are such as Pret A Manger and M&S Food. Most towns, airports and service stations have at least one vegan-friendly chain. In fact, in 2018, the UK launched more vegan products than any other nation. So you can get familiar favourites wherever you are! ⁠
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⭐️ You can also personally ask for recommendations on Facebook groups. Local vegans are always happy to point you in the right direction, so that you don’t go hungry. If you’re too impatient to wait for responses, try the search function to see if anybody has asked a similar question in the group recently.⁠
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What do you do to stay organised when you're out and about?⁠
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  • Want to show people how delicious vegan food is?⁠
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I remember going vegan and thinking I'd never be able to have cake or baked goods, because they had to have eggs in.⁠
Wrong again! Since then, I've discovered vegan meringues, brownies and all kinds of other goodies.⁠
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I like to make these cookies! They're actually one of the first vegan desserts I made, which of course means they're very easy to do.⁠
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They are perfect for school bakes, having guests over, or special occasions. ⁠
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TOP TIP: Leave them in for a few extra minutes if you prefer them crunchy on the outside.⁠
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Ingredients:⁠
120 g vegan butter⁠
100 g white sugar⁠
100 g brown sugar⁠
120 g plain flour⁠
1 tsp vanilla extract⁠
50 g cocoa powder⁠
1 tsp baking soda⁠
1 tbsp non-dairy milk⁠
1 Pinch salt⁠
100 g vegan chocolate chunks or chips⁠
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Instructions:⁠
1. Preheat oven to 180C.⁠
2. Add the butter, both sugars and vanilla to a bowl and mix thoroughly.⁠
3. Sift the flour and cocoa powder into a bowl, then add baking soda and salt. Mix together.⁠
4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and mix thoroughly.⁠
5. Add the chocolate and milk. Mix the dough – it should be sticky and thick.⁠
6. Roll the dough into small individual balls and put on a greased baking tray.⁠
7. Bake for 10 minutes until still soft in the middle. Take out of the oven and leave to firm up for 10 minutes.⁠
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  • Funday Sunday!⁠
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Tell me...⁠
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Which do you usually prefer?⁠
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1. Starters⁠
OR⁠
2. Desserts⁠
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And let me know why! Leave a comment with your choice.⁠
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Lauren, of @TheClutterFreeMama , has given us all a great introduction to sustainable living. ⁠
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I don't know about you, but even as a vegan, I'm still learning about reducing waste, using more sustainable products, and being all-round more environmentally friendly.⁠
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It can be a minefield, but Lauren's fantastic post gives us all a great introduction to the lifestyle, and the little things we can start doing today.⁠
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Enjoy! Link is straight through my BIO.⁠
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  • My negative and limiting mindset was one of the things that stopped me going fully vegan sooner. ⁠
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And for those worrying about changing habits, I completely understand. It is a daunting prospect – we all have busy lives and routines that we like following. But it is do-able and completely worth it! Take it from somebody who is out on the other side of change – ⁠
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You create a new normal. ⁠
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Once I fully realised the horrors of the dairy and egg industry, and associated health risks, I knew I had to do it. Now I have good habits and healthy routines, that don’t involve cruelty. I’ve found new dishes at the takeaway that I actually enjoy more. I’ve learned to make my own ‘egg’ foo yung at home, which is very satisfying, and healthier! I’ve discovered Vego chocolate bars (heaven) and gorgeous vegan lunches. Life is great!⁠
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As with getting rid of any habit, mindset is a huge player. Humans are emotional creatures! We make many decisions (especially in the moment) based on emotion rather than logic. If you’re not emotionally committed and prepared, the likelihood is that your new habit won’t last. We often adopt certain beliefs to justify keeping old habits. In the context of veganism, this could be “but I won’t get the nutrients I need” or “I can’t afford it”. ⁠
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What’s yours? It’s important to challenge these limiting beliefs. Are they REALLY true?⁠
Let’s replace those beliefs with new ones – “I’ll be saving lives” or “I’ll be helping the environment for my grandchildren”. Being vegan really is a positive lifestyle choice.⁠
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#newvegan #learnervegan #veganbeginner #vegancommunity #vegetarians #veggielife #veggielove #veganhelp #vegansupport #dairyfree #plantbased #plantbaseddiet #meatfree #meatless #veganbuys  #animallover #friendsnotfood #veganwannabe #vegannewbie #goingvegan #beingvegan #almostvegan #veganuk #ukvegans #ukvegan #vegansofig #flexitarian #vegetarianuk #vegetarianlife #veganaf
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