What Not To Eat On A Vegan Diet

In this article we’re going to touch on what you shouldn’t be eating on a vegan diet in two-way. Clarifying what you definitely shouldn’t be eating, to classify as a vegan, and what vegans should be avoiding, to reap the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle.

It may be that you’re thinking about becoming a vegan, or perhaps you already are, but you feel a bit weaker, or you haven’t really felt a significant difference since you became plant-based. Perhaps you’re a life-long vegan who has never even tasted meat or any kind of animal product, but you’re looking to really focus on quality. It is very easy in any kind of diet to eat badly, or eat things that are deemed as healthy, but are actually not.

We’re going to start off with the basics of what not to eat on a vegan diet. Some of this might be stating the obvious, but there could be a surprise or two in here. This section will cover firmly what vegans shouldn’t be eating. This might be more useful for aspiring vegans, or new comers who are still learning as they develop in the process.

Meat and poultry

Beef, lamb, pork, chicken, goose, turkey, sausages, bacon. Any form of animal is the most visible vegan omission. This side of things also applies to vegetarians.

So what’s the alternative?

Whilst there have been an influx of ‘meat replacement’, predominantly made from soya or mycoprotein, it is recommended to seek a wholefoods approach, particularly for protein replacement, such as legumes, nuts, grains and high quality protein powder that will offer you an unprocessed, high quality consumption

Seafood

Fish, prawns, squid, lobster, mussels, and any form of seafood. Be careful with food ingredients that contain fish sauce, particularly Asian curries. There are plenty of vegan friendly alternatives to most foods.

So what’s the alternative?

The attempt to replace fish and seafood hasn’t quite been as forthcoming as meat replacements, however Tempeh, a derivative from Soya, has often being coined as the nearest thing to fish, taste wise. Tempeh will certainly offer you a good source of protein.

Dairy

Milk, cheese, yogurt, creams are all off the list. Most protein supplements unfortunately have milk products like whey, casein and lactose, which cannot be consumed on a vegan diet. Vegetarians do drink dairy.

So what’s the alternative?

  • Milk alternatives are quite mainstream in the market now, used by vegans and non-vegans alike (people that may have lactose intolerance, or really just don’t like cow milk). Oat milk, Almond milk, soya milk, coconut milk and many more, all doing a similar job to milk.
  • Dairy free yogurt has begun to rise in popularity, using soy, nut or grain based ingredients. Some are even starting to add probiotics, to ensure these dairy-free alternatives deliver nutritional value
  • This continues onto cheese and cream replacements, with cheese replacements in-particular, used with coconut oil ingredients. You now often see these on vegan pizzas
  • There are is an abundance of plant-based protein shakes in the market now, in a variety of flavours. In addition to being vegan-friendly, many of them actually offer a much purer quality of protein, vitamin and nutrient that is on offer

Eggs

No form of egg should be consumed as a vegan, whether direct from the source or as part of ingredients, whether egg noodles (and many pastas), cakes, or any kind of food containing egg.

So what’s the alternative?

It has often been said that Tofu has the flexibility to replace some texture in egg, such as scrambled egg, but perhaps without the taste. There are now a wide variety of vegan cakes, that use egg-replacement textures such as chia seeds and water.

Honey and bee byproducts

Not taking honey may comes as a surprise to many people new to veganism. From an ethical standpoint, honey is an animal product which does go against a vegan diet, but if your reasons are more for health reasons, then how does that work in your world? Well, veganism as a concept has become more mainstream because of the clear health advantages that it can offer you, as well as a wider understanding of how it impacts animals and the environment. Whatever your reasons are, to really call yourself a vegan, honey has to be off the list.

So what’s the alternative?

There are many vegan honey replacement products out there. You can use high quality organic maple syrup, agave nectar – an organic sweetener, vegan ‘honey’ – made from prebiotic inulin, and many more.

Foods that can ‘accidentally’ not be vegan

There are many ingredients out there that are used to process or preserve foods that are not vegan-friendly. This includes gelatin, certain additives and preservatives, many omega-3 sources (this usually comes from fish oil), and some rather strange-sounding sources such as bird feathers – for example, there are BCAA supplements out there that may be made bird feathers or even hairs. Luckily there a plant-based alternatives to this!

On top of that there are many kinds of foods that could be natively vegan-friendly, but are cooked in animal based oils, or in conditions that compromise that food. Even some items such as bread, which you wouldn’t expect to have animal association, could potentially have an animal-based ingredient for preservative reasons, or a dairy element for flavouring. The best thing to do is check the ingredients.

Items to watch out for (they may be vegan friendly, but worth double checking):

  • Bread
  • Chips and fried food
  • Popular sauces – ketchup, Worcestershire sauce
  • Pesto
  • Wine and beer (this could be particularly true of some red wines)
  • Dark chocolate (read the label as they’re not always vegan friendly)
  • Egg-based pastas

Vegan foods to watch out for

At FuelOnPlants, we’re an advocate for plant-based diets for champions. So we’re not a fan of every kind of vegan food because it’s vegan. It has to be offering nutritional value as well. Below are some examples of vegan false friends:

  • Fake’ animal replacements: Meat and cheese replacements have infiltrated the supermarkets, spearheading the vegan mainstream charge. Almost any kind of ‘meat’ is now available to vegans, such as sausages, bacon, chicken, beef, halloumi cheese and much more. Unfortunately, very few of these offer any nutritional value, largely made from preservatives and additives. Many of theme are even nutritionally inferior to their animal-based counterparts. Becoming a vegan shouldn’t be about finding a like-for-like swap, but buying into the concept, and changing the mindset entirely
  • Honey replacements and sweeteners: Even as an omnivore, sometimes too much of a sweet thing is no good. The same applies to being a herbivore as well. Honey, particularly Manuka does offer some medicinal properties, but too much of it is still an excess of sweetness. The vegan alternatives offer very little nutritionally, so should be used very sparingly, however as suggested earlier, prebiotic, inulin based honey replacement can offer nutrients, but should still be used in small doses
  • Dairy-free milk: Don’t be alarmed. By no means is plant-based milk being called the villain here, but some of them are high in sugar content, which is important to look out for. Increasingly however, low or no sugar alternatives are on offer. Also, look out for plant-based milks that are fortified, and offer vitamins, calcium and an abundance of micronutrients
  • Junk food: Like meat replacements, there has been a sharp increase in vegan-friendly junk food, which may help more people convert to veganism, but we’re not a fan of these at FuelOnPlants. We can all have a treat once in a while, but these poor quality foods shouldn’t become a daily staple. Items such as crisps, biscuits, sweets, ice cream and cakes are all available for vegans. Even white chocolate is now available to vegans.
  • Some protein bars for vegans: Protein bars as a concept offer more convenience than powdered protein, but to hold it together, often, a lot of sugars and sweeteners are used. Look out for nutrient dense versions, that have as much low refined sugar content as possible. Some bars use dates and other naturally aspirated ingredients to hold it together

Summary

Hopefully you found this article useful. There are so many other facets to look out for, but the above should give you a starting to point to think about. The consideration to you, is why you’ve become a vegan. If it is 100% for ethical reasons, then maybe the quality of food isn’t as important to you, but the question is, what’s ethical to your own body?

A solid whole food, macronutrient rich diet that’s low on processed, poor quality food is always recommended.

Good luck with your food choices, and feel free to comment on your vegan approach.

fuelonplants.com

2 thoughts on “What Not To Eat On A Vegan Diet

  1. Interesting – but I wonder if Vegans & Vegetarians are aware of the fact that whatever food they may eat which comes from the ground is sadly lacking in the appropriate natural minerals that our immune system requires to do its job of keeping us fit and health.

    1. Absolutely, that’s why the quality of fruit and vegetables are so important. Many supermarkets use various growth and preservation techniques that compromise the food, but maybe shopping organic for fruit and veg can offer a much more wholesome experience. I also take a good quality multivitamin, to ensure I’m hitting key RDAs.

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