Graph: “What Vegans Eat”

Graph: “What Vegans Eat”

So… apparently this little graph has been making the rounds, and finally got to my inbox.

From I Love Charts:

While I laughed – heartily – at “grass,” looking at the list of “what vegans actually eat” did nothing but make me sad.

“Burgers,” “bacon” – bacon? – “buffalo wings,” “cheese steak sandwiches,” “mac-n-cheese,” “marshmallows,” “fried ‘chicken,'” “hot dogs,” “sushi,” “tofurky?”

So, basically, in order to educate people on what vegans eat, you present me a list that is almost 1/3 to 1/2 soy? Probably genetically modified, probably unfermented?

In short, about half of all you have to offer me, vegan, is processed food? No thanks.

I’m not even 100% vegan and I make way better vegan food than this.

What’s my beef? (No pun intended… okay, maybe just a little…)


No matter what alternative eating lifestyle you embrace… it is not synonymous with clean eating. Being a vegan doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be eating clean. Think about it – if you hit the “healthy” section (!) of the grocery store, what do you see? You certainly don’t see produce.You see boxes. Cans. Packages. You see “vegan cheese (and it melts!).” “Vegan chik’n.” “Vegan sausage.” Meatless versions of everything. All kinds of substitutions.

C’mon – processed, processed, processed and processed. If you’ve adopted your lifestyle based on the fact that you could “replace” cheese with something processed… you’re going to suffer the same fate. Maybe not today and maybe not tomorrow.. but it absolutely will come.

When you live your eating lifestyle based on processed food replacements and substitutes for what you used to eat… I can’t imagine what makes one think they’d be spared from the consequences of “un-clean eating” just because their eating habits become more restricted.

All my clean eating vegans out there… tell me y’all aren’t eating what this chart says you’re eating. Help do your people some good and talk about what’s on your plate!
By | 2017-06-10T11:23:25+00:00 August 15th, 2014|Play With Your Food|26 Comments

About the Author:

The proud leader of the #bgg2wlarmy, Erika Nicole Kendall writes food and fitness, body image and beauty, and more here at #bgg2wl. After losing over 150lbs, Kendall became a personal trainer certified in fitness nutrition, women's fitness, and weight loss by the National Academy of Sports Medicine. She is also certified in sports nutrition by Precision Nutrition. She now lives in New York with her husband and children, and is working on her 6th and 7th certifications because she likes having alphabet soup at the end of her name.


  1. Jewel November 3, 2011 at 10:54 AM - Reply

    LMAO! New vegan over here. I don’t touch any of the faux meats or cheeses. My attitude is that I left meat and cheese and other things for a reason. I am not a soy fan. I eat as healthy and whole as possible with whole grains.
    PS I buy organic even on foodstamps(there is no shame).

    Love ya!

  2. Ashley November 3, 2011 at 11:25 AM - Reply

    Lol I laughed when I saw this graph too. I try to limit my intake of any processed foods…if I want “cheeze” I use soaked cashews and nutritional yeast, if I want “meat” (which whatever for me, it’s mainly for my omni family/friends) I use mushrooms or beans. The only soy I really use ever is tempeh but even that is pretty rare. I, however, am a super lazy vegan an veggies are so easy to chop up and bake or sauté that I prefer that to anything else anyway lol but tofutti and tofurkey and some of those other vegan brands are not good for you just cuz they are “vegan”, they still have MSG or trans fats and that does not a clean lifestyle make, so I’ve never even tried them honestly.

  3. Lauren (PB&G) November 3, 2011 at 11:34 AM - Reply

    I agree that the chart doesn’t do vegans justice but a vegan diet is the same as any other diet: using your brain to eat the things that you know are good for you. Eating some fried “chick-un” is only slightly healthier than eating fried chicken and should be eaten in moderation, same as cookies, marshmallows, tempura, mac and cheez..

    I watch for GMO ingredients and fake stuff. My rule is that if it has more then 5 or 6 ingredients and I can’t pronounce them, I probably shouldn’t be buying it. I usually make my own fake “meat” when I crave that meaty protein rush and I hardly ever buy the processed stuff.

  4. Tachae November 3, 2011 at 12:18 PM - Reply

    You should do one about the “organic” frozen meals. My friend prides herself on eating those when she can afford to eat healthy. To make things worse, they cone from Wal-mart ….okay? WAL-MART, for a dollar and eight cents. $1.80 there it is on dollar form…, I’m no expert, but anything made wholly organic, that can be BOXED and sold for 1.80?! I’m a little suspect…

  5. Kait November 3, 2011 at 3:19 PM - Reply

    “Junk food vegans” is the proper term.

    Let me present my meals today:

    Breakfast: Pumpkin/Kale smoothie (made with almond milk), homemade Kind bar

    Lunch: 1 c Curried Lentil & Squash Soup, 2 slices 100% whole wheat (no artificial or preserved anything) bread, 2 c black bean & butternut squash burrito filling (my wraps went bad).

    Mid-afternoon snack: carrots + celery sticks with 1.5 TBSP freshly ground almond butter and 1 medium apple.

    Dinner: Roasted potatoes and yams with homemade “cheese” sauce made using almond milk, nooch, miso, and some spices. And probably some more soup.

    So yea…I eat a lot of fake stuff! 😉

  6. Cherished November 3, 2011 at 5:04 PM - Reply

    I’m not a vegan but I don’t like eating meat substitutes. I would much prefer the other choices.

    I would also like to make my own veggie patties. To me the frozen ones in a box taste like the box them come in.

    I like the term Flexitarian’ too.

    I think we shouldn’t eat more meat than if we had to hunt it ourselves and I’m pretty weak so that means little meat for me.

    Thanks for bringing to our attention again about processed food of any kind.

  7. Lakisha November 4, 2011 at 5:39 PM - Reply

    Im a new vegan, 7 weeks in, and I have tried some tofu and tempeh. tofu just tastes funny but the tempeh tastes much better. I still get in plenty of FRESH fruit and veggies. Its all about moderation.

  8. Paula November 4, 2011 at 8:56 PM - Reply

    That ‘what people think vegans eat’ chart is funny! According to some people I’ve encountered who discovered that I was vegan – that questionable grey area would constitute as cardboard.

    When I made the decision to adopt a clean, vegan diet, fake, imitation and “like” animal products – were clear off of my radar. What I did try (prior to my transition), was disgusting! Plus, I’m a grown woman, if I wanted to keep tasting cheese and bacon … I would’ve just kept eating it, lol. So, I’m good on the impostor food.

    I’m a veggie-freak, as my diet now is primarily plant-based. But, with the variety of all that’s out there, I never get bored with meals, nor am I urged to indulge in VegCheez (spread on a piece of cardboard).

  9. Lorretta A.Walker November 5, 2011 at 6:57 PM - Reply

    I have been vegan for over a year, and I focus on eating as clean as possible. To be a true clean eater, you have to read labels. I try to eat as many GMO free food as possible. I do primarily cook from scratch, but I will occasionally buy the minimally processed food (if it’s organic, non GMO, and has a few easy to understand ingredients). Thank you for the pie graphs, sister Erika. The illustration puts a vegan diet in a whole different perspective. In my prior life as a non clean eating vegetarian, I have been guilty of many of the processed examples in the graph. I have come a long way, thanks to your blog and the various vegan oriented bloggers in the blogosphere!

  10. Tara Melissa November 6, 2011 at 9:25 PM - Reply

    I did a vegan challenge (now I’m back to flexitarianism, which for me is mostly vegetarian, with limited intake of animal products) and while I avoided substitutes for dairy and meat (I had vegan chicken way back once, and I swear it tasted just like the real thing – then I started wondering what kind of things that food product had to go through to look, feel and taste like chicken, and I was disgusted), I had a hard time fitting in protein without relying on tofu.

    I made couscous, quinoa and beans on occasion, but I kept falling back on tofu (and edamame). If I were to do it again, I’d try to not rely on them so much.

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