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Our Guide to Starting a Vegan Diet

Ready to go vegan? Here’s what you need to get started, including what you can (and can’t) eat, vegan swaps, easy recipes and more.

Fruits and vegetables including oranges, avocados, asparagus, blueberries.

So you want to try a vegan diet. You probably have questions. What exactly does “veganism” mean? What do you eat — and what do you avoid? What are easy swaps for non-vegan foods like cheese? Worry not. Find helpful information, including how to get started, right here.

What is a vegan diet?

A vegan diet avoids all animal products, including meat, dairy (cheese, milk and butter), eggs and often honey. It's a way of eating that's rich in vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. Basically, a celebration of plants. Imagine: a colorful grain bowl topped with chickpeas, kale, sweet potatoes and creamy avocado dressing. Grilled asparagus drizzled with romesco sauce. Ginger-soy–marinated tofu stir-fried with bell peppers and broccoli. Sounds delicious, doesn’t it? It is.

Veganism vs. vegetarianism

While these two terms are often confused with one another, they’re not exactly the same. In comparison to vegetarianism, think of veganism as a strict adherence to avoiding animal products of all kinds. While both diets avoid animal meat, vegetarians will eat animal products like eggs and milk. Vegans, on the other hand, will often avoid products like honey because it is produced by bees.

What can you eat — and what should you avoid?

Plants, all the plants. A well-planned vegan diet is based on whole plant foods — like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds. Meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, dairy and honey — plus other animal-based ingredients (like whey, lactose or gelatin) are off-limits. Some unexpected ingredients, like refined sugar and vitamin D (used to fortify foods), may also not be vegan due to ingredients they’re sourced from or ingredients used in production.

For a detailed list of foods that pass the test, check out our Vegan Grocery List.

What are the benefits?

This lighter, brighter way of eating packs plenty of benefits. With plants in the spotlight, adding more vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains and more to your routine is simple. You may even discover new favorite foods. A great example — jackfruit. It's massive and heavy like a watermelon and the inner flesh is sweet in flavor when ripe. Cooked green jackfruit can be shredded to create a texture similar to pulled pork. It sounds a little weird, but it’s a perfect vegan substitute for meat.

Following a vegan diet can also help boost your intake of key nutrients. For example, greens, beans, sweet potatoes and more are excellent sources of fiber.

How do I get started?

You know the basics of vegan eating, now let’s put your newly earned knowledge to the test. Here are resources to kickoff this totally delicious way of eating. Think of this as your vegan tool kit.

Vegan Recipes

Need more inspiration? Try these favorite vegan recipes:

The information provided on this website is not intended as medical or healthcare information or advice. Please consult your healthcare professional(s) regarding all matters related to your diet and health.

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