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What Can’t Vegans Eat?

common non vegan ingredients

The vegan lifestyle and diet is one that embodies cutting out any consummation of animal products. This can get quite complicated as there are many animals derived products that are often hidden ingredients in many products on the shelves. Things vegans can’t eat include the big categories like meat, fish, dairy, and eggs, yet there are much smaller and harder to identify products too. If you’re vegan yourself or are wanting to purchase some groceries for a vegan friend or family member you need to understand exactly what is not vegan and how to identify non vegan products.

What Do Vegans Not Eat?

Let’s start off with the basics and the biggest things you need to know in order to begin your vegan food understanding. Vegans do not eat any part of an animal nor do they eat anything that comes from an animal. This is because they do not support the process of animal harm and torture that is often used in the production process, also for environmental purposes and some even for health reasons and thus any animal consumption does not align with their morals.


Includes – lamb, steak, beef


Includes- all poultry


Includes all types of shellfish like crab, shrimps, and lobster.


non vegan products

Includes milk products, cheeses, butter, cream, and all dairy-based products.


Includes eggs from any animal as well as products that are made with eggs such as mayonnaise.

These are the main categories that vegans avoid but bear in mind that things like dairy can be found in many products like cakes, cookies, bread, and even cereals and salad dressings.

Common Non-vegan Ingredients

what is not vegan

Unfortunately, non vegan ingredients are found in many different products, many in which we would expect to find things such as dairy or animal-derived products. A big part of what makes certain foods non vegan is the use of gelatin. Gelatin is an ingredient that is made by used the skin and crushed up bones and tissues of the animal to make a sticky substance that is flavorless and is most commonly found in things like sweets, marshmallows, and even many beauty and cosmetic products.

Another ingredient to watch out for when trying to pick your vegan products is milk powder and whey protein, both of these products belong to the dairy category and can be used as a replacement to milk itself yet still comes directly from the animal. These are often found hidden in things like hot chocolate powder, packaged baked goods, cereals, creamers, and many snack bars and potato chips. So it’s important to check the ingredients list to ensure you’re buying a vegan product as sometimes these ingredients are found in products where you wouldn’t expect any use of animal products. Honey is another one of the foods vegans can’t eat yet some opinions are divided on the topic however most opt to not consume it as it does come from an animal so watch out for the use of the in products too.

List of Foods Vegans Can’t Eat

There are many nonvegan foods and each individual item should always be checked because, in some circumstances for example cookies, there are some that are vegan and some that aren’t.

  • Cheese – all cheeses contain dairy and cannot be eaten by vegans
  • Meat and fish – in any form cannot be consumed however there are plenty of vegan versions that can substitute these foods.
  • Chocolate – most chocolate apart contains dairy but some dark chocolates may be milk free
  • Gummy sweets – most sweets contain gelatin and are avoided
  • Breakfast Cereal – most cereals actually contain Lanolin which is an oil that comes from sheep, dairy and honey may be found too so watch out!
  • Pesto sauce – beware as it contains cheese
  • Instant cake and cookie mixes – these often contain milk powders or dairy derivatives

While this may seem like a lot of things that vegans can’t eat, there are too plenty of things that they can and the key to making sure you pick the right product for your vegan diet is to read the ingredients and nowadays they are often labeled as vegan which is helpful in the shopping process.

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