It’s really quite simple: vegans don’t eat (or drink, or wear, or buy) anything that was made using ingredients that come from animals.
That means for example that vegans don’t eat chickens, or their eggs. Vegans don’t eat cows, or the milk that a cows makes for her calf.
- meat including poultry, chicken, turkey, goose, duck, game, venison, beef, pork, muttton, lamb, ham, gammon, bacon…
- fish including shellfish – so no salmon, mackerel, cod, haddock, anchovy etc.
- dairy including butter; cheese including goat’s or sheep’s cheese; cow’s milk, goat’s milk, horse milk or milk from any animal except for human breastmilk in the case of breastfed babies.
- eggs hen’s eggs, goose eggs, duck eggs, fish eggs…
Where it gets tricky is that many processed foods contain or are processed using animal products that may not be obvious to the untrained eye – and that may appear on the label in a number of (dis)guises.
So for example, most Haribo and most other jelly sweets contain gelatin (E441), which is extracted from the bones of cows or pigs (see how here). It is also sometimes used for filtering wines and in a host of other products. Fizzy drinks sometimes made using fish gelatin – and because it’s classified as a “processing aid”, it doesn’t always have to appear on the label.
That doesn’t mean vegans don’t eat sweets, or drink wine or fizzy drinks – they do. But it does mean they have to check how each particular product or brand is made to find which ones are suitable for vegans. Never assume something is suitable for vegans without checking the label or another authoritative source.
See our page on label-reading for tips and tricks to make shopping for vegans quicker and easier.
If you want to know why vegans don’t eat animal products, take a look at why eat vegan?
A European Honey Bee flying back to its hive carrying pollen in a pollen basket. Photo by Muhammad Mahdi Karim.