Vegetarian + Vegan eating vegan

Published on July 7th, 2011 | by Becky Striepe

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Eating Vegan: What is Vegan?

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eating veganwhat is vegan

We talk a lot about eating vegan around here, but what does “vegan” actually mean?

The short answer to “What is Vegan?” is that a person living a vegan lifestyle eschews all animal products. That means that, unlike a vegetarian, vegans don’t eat eggs, dairy, or any other animal by-products. We don’t wear leather, silk, or feathers. We don’t craft with wool.

Veganism can be a little bit more nuanced than that, though. Some vegans, myself included, will make an exception for local honey. I have friends who keep bees, and I know how they treat them and that they love them like pets. Some will wear leather if it’s second hand, since no animals were harmed directly to make those shoes or that belt for them.

“What is Vegan?” can be a sort of personal question for many vegans, because just like anything else, we all have slightly different takes.  Those nuances are one of the reasons I launched the Eating Vegan series. Rather than focus on all the aspects of the vegan lifestyle, I wanted to focus on delicious, vegan eats. This is a food blog after all!

Eating Vegan

So, what is vegan food? If you’re not sure about the individual vegans you’re cooking for, your best bet is to avoid all animal products completely. It’s important to keep an eye out for hidden animal ingredients as well as more obvious animal products like milk or meat.

Eating vegan requires some careful label-reading, and if you’re not used to doing it it can feel a little bit daunting. Many products will list allergen information, including disclosing milk and egg by-products. Some vegans avoid foods that were processed on shared equipment, as well, so those allergy warnings can make it much easier to suss out what you do and don’t want to use.

What is Vegan?

I think one of the problems when we talk about veganism is that we spend a lot of time dwelling on what vegan’s don’t eat. But what vegans do eat is a big part of what makes me love being vegan!

Vegans eat beans, nuts, and grains. We eat a rainbow of fruits and veggies. We eat sweets, including chocolate. Here are some tasty vegan recipes to give you more of an idea of what is vegan and also completely delicious:

Really, the list could go on and on! There’s a misconception that vegans live on salads and fake meat products, and while a vegan diet could look like that, vegans have a lot more options than they used to.

So, what is vegan? Vegan is cruelty free and delicious. It can be healthy, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s also a very personal thing, as I mentioned before, so I’d love to hear from the vegan readers out there! What is vegan to you?

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by kyntharyn

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About the Author

My name is Becky Striepe (rhymes with “sleepy”), and I am a crafts and food writer from Atlanta, Georgia with a passion for making our planet a healthier, happier, and more compassionate place to live. My mission is to make vegan food and crafts accessible to everyone!. If you like my work, you can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, and .



  • http://Web Brittin

    If you eat honey you are not vegan. Bees are in kingdom animalia, simple as that. How can you feel like you deserve to take the hard work of bees away from them for yourself? Just stop thinking of what you want and leave the bees alone to live in nature as wild creatures. There should not be bees in captivity. Bees deserve to keep their honey for themselves.

    • http://importantmedia.org/members/beckyanne/ Becky Striepe

      I hear ya, and I totally appreciate that point of view.

  • http://Web Maren

    I have recently become a vegetarian and am curious about becoming a vegan… but I am not sure I could give up cheese. Are there any good vegan alternatives that have the same kind of taste as cheese?

    • http://importantmedia.org/members/beckyanne/ Becky Striepe

      That’s one I hear all the time from vegetarians and omnivores. We have an Eating Vegan article on the cheese problem that has some suggestions:

      http://eatdrinkbetter.com/2010/01/14/eating-vegan-the-cheese-problem/

      I hope this helps! If you have more questions, though, you’re welcome to drop another comment or email through the contact page.

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