Vegan Vs Travel


Things That Vegans Surprisingly CAN Eat – like bread and pasta!

can a vegan eat bread

Alongside the usual questions like "why are you vegan?", "isn't it unhealthy to be vegan?" and "is it even possible to travel as a vegan?" people often ask if vegans can eat certain things – like bread. In fact my number one asked question is: "can a vegan eat bread?" 

It's a fair question. To most, what a vegetarian can and can't eat is very simple: vegetarians don't eat meat and meat tends to come as meat and isn't really hidden anywhere... okay, there are a few exceptions like sweets, parmigiano cheese and certain beers, but meat very often looks like what it is (albeit usually without feathers, skin, etc).

But what a vegan can and can't eat is much harder: alongside the meat and fish that vegetarians can't eat, vegans also don't eat animal products at all: no dairy, no eggs or honey – all three of which are used in many many types of processed food. Certain cakes, chocolate, breads, crisps, cereals – you name it. Thus the confusion about bread which is a processed food too, after all.

(don't worry, I'm here to answer all your other questions as well – like "can vegans eat yeast?" :)

What CAN a vegan eat? - Surprising vegan foods

1. Can vegans eat bread? (the short and easy answer)

can vegans eat bread

Short answer: yes, but it does depend on the type of bread (see list just below). When it comes to what a vegan can eat, the safest way to play it is to make it yourself from scratch (and again, make sure it doesn't contain meat, fish, milk, cheese, butter, eggs, honey or anything else that came from an animal)

In case you want to buy bread always keep an eye out for breads which have a vegan label on them at your supermarket or ask your local baker... or you can order cheap from Amazon in bulk. Our favourite vegan bread brand is currently Biona Organic, we just love their rye bread stuff: rye bread with sprouted seeds, with linseeds and/or pumpkin seeds. I mean, YUM!!

If you wanna make your own bread, I can also highly recommend this Vegan Bread Recipe Book – added bonus, it's gluten-free too. And the cover is cute:

vegan bread
I know they say not to judge books like that – don't worry the contents are good too :) And of course, if you want to start making your own vegan bread the easy way just get some vegan bread baking mix like this one or this one 

Can vegans eat bread? (the more complex question of yeast and fungi)

The first country I travelled to as a vegan was Italy, and this was the first time someone asked me – can vegans eat bread? Whilst it is true that vegans can't eat certain kinds of bread (any of the ones that have milk or egg in them like traditional naan bread), that wasn't the reasoning behind my questioner's question. The reason they thought vegans couldn't eat bread was... because of the yeast!! 

Well, the consensus among most vegans is: fungi isn't derived from animals therefore vegans can eat yeast (phew)! But in a way the question still is very logical: yeast comes from the fungi family, which, according to Wikipedia:

"[is] classified as a kingdom, [...] separate from the other eukaryotic life kingdoms of plants and animals." 

This might be a bit confusing with the clear-cut division between animals and plants in mind... so what about fungi, a completely different kingdom? Neither animal, nor plant.... the judgement is yours! 
The question of whether it is ethical to eat fungi or not is still undecided in vegan circles – what do you think?  Most vegans would probably say yes. You can find an interesting discussion of it here and and a post discussing it here. All in all, in case you're planning to buy bread for a vegan the safest thing to do is to ask them about their stance on fungi first! We definitely do eat mushrooms – a lot of them! :)

Nutritional yeast – a vegan's best friend 

For those who are okay with the above consensus (and most vegans are) this is really really good news, because Nutritional Yeast Flakes are an absolute vital in the vegan's arsenal. These flaky wonders are the key to making vegan cheeses and are surprisingly easy to use (even though I'd never even heard of them before I went vegan). Mix nutritional yeast with soaked cashews, garlic, lemon and salt, whizz in a food processor and boom you have a healthy, tasty, cheese-like and simple pasta sauce!

can vegans eat bread

Yes, it does look like fish food, yes, it tastes dry when it's raw, but it is the cheesiest thing I've had that didn't come from an animal, and it is packed with B12 (important vitamin for vegans, and humans in general). You can find nutritional yeast in health food shops (usually at high prices) or order them in bulk from Amazon

(Hot tip: Nutritional Yeast Flakes are an excellent gift for a newbie vegan – teach them about the simple pasta sauce! – AND old hat vegans, as well... in our experience, most vegans love nutritional yeast flakes!)

What kind of bread do vegans eat?

So vegans can eat most breads – but do double check that label! Easier said than done if you travel vegan and can't read the label... so as a general rule of thumb vegans can eat these breads:
  • Hamburger buns
  • Pita bread
  • Brown bread 
  • Sourdough
  • English muffins
  • Bagels
  • Sandwich breads
  • Flatbread
  • Buns
  • Rolls
  • Loaves
  • Crackers
  • Tortillas
Again, if you don't want to read labels / can't read the labels / have a bread you like but want to veganize it, make it yourself from scratch using our favourite Vegan Bread Recipe Book!

List of breads vegans can't eat

If you're not sure, and can't read the label and can't ask the baker/shop assistant, you should avoid 'squishier' breads because they often contain milk/yoghurt/eggs. Generally vegans can't eat:
  • Naan bread
  • Brioche
  • Challah
  • Honey wheat (and any other bread made with honey)
  • Crumpets (sob)

In case you decide not to eat anything containing fungi which includes baker's yeast, options become somewhat more limited... fortunately, there are certain types of breads that don't include any kind of added yeast, only the natural sourdough that develops in meal (which, however, is also a type of fungi). So in case you're planning to buy bread for a vegan the safest thing to do is to ask them about their stance on fungi first! (they will probably be okay with it though :)

2. Can vegans eat pasta?

can vegans eat pasta

Moving on from vegan bread, we ask is pasta vegan? Like bread and alcohol there are certain types of pasta that vegans can and can't eat. Lots of fresh pasta is made with egg which means it's a no for vegans. This includes lasagne sheets and often cannelloni. Sob. Although, a quick google will find you vegan Cannelloni and vegan lasagne sheets, yey. 

In general though, most types of pasta can be eaten by vegans. We usually try to opt for ones with a vegan label like this one (Penne)this one (Spaghetti)this one (Tagliatelle) and this one (Fusilli). For pastas without labels/with labels you can't read, as a general rule of thumb vegans can eat:

  • spaghetti;
  • tagliatelle; 
  • penne;
  • fusilli; 
  • bucatini and more.
And when it comes to fresh pasta, luckily, there are more and more vegan restaurants offering vegan fresh pasta – there's even one in Budapest

Okay, so vegans can eat pasta, but what do vegans put on pasta? Here are some quick ideas:

is pasta vegan

Despite what your cheese likes to tell you, cheese doesn't have to be the main ingredient of your pasta dishes. Arrabiata, for example, is delicious in it's own right. It's a simple pasta sauce straight from Rome: fresh tomatoes + garlic + red chilli peppers + olive oil. Simple, healthy and bursting with flavour (thanks chilli and garlic). Since we've been saving money ditching the cheese, we can now afford to go for organic olive oil and add some extra tomatoes, too :) Some sun dried tomatoes, perhaps? Mmmmmmm....

White 'cheesy' sauce
In case you missed my love letter to nutritional yeast in the bread section, please allow me to repeat it: nutritional yeast + soaked cashews + lemon + garlic + salt. Whizz together. (omg, my mouth just started watering)

Bolognese was my favourite pasta comfort dish before I turned vegan, so for the last three years of being vegan I've spent an unhealthy amount of time looking for a vegan replacement. I now have two: 

a.) First, there is lentil bolognese – perfect for students, with a tin of brown lentils and tinned tomatoes (you can read my full recipe here). If you have a bit more money than your average student, we recommend getting organic lentils, like these from Suma which is one of our favourite companies – we always try to support organic labels + workers' co-ops in general! :)

b.) For something a little less studenty (read snobby) I go for yellow split peas like these (once agan, Suma :): if you have a strong food processor, mince them raw, then treat them as you would beef (fry in oil, before adding to a delicious red sauce). 

For more vegan pasta recipes and Italian food in general I recommend checking out Chloe's Vegan Italian Kitchen book, that's the one I bought when I was in Italy :) 

3. Can vegans eat mushrooms?

can vegans eat mushrooms

On that note, and for the same reasons, can vegans eat mushrooms? Yes, vegans can eat mushrooms. When I was in Budapest, a hotel manager asked me this very question, and when I said I could he concluded that I wasn't a very hardcore vegan. Haha. 

On a semi-related note, one of the best gifts I've ever received as a vegan was this grow your own organic mushroom kit!!! 

gifts for vegans

Foodie gifts are always great for vegans and what better foodie gift than one you can grow yourself? 

4. Can vegans eat cooked food?

can vegans eat yeast

Back in Italy, an Englishman once asked me if being vegan meant you couldn't eat cooked food. I'm asked this one quite often and again this one is kind of logical: there are lots of raw vegans who (you guessed it) only eat raw, vegan food. However, as a general vegan, you can eat cooked food. Here are some recipe books to get you started:

How Not To Die - Over 100 Recipes to Help Prevent Disease 

Vegan Comfort Classics - 101 Recipes to Feed Your Face 
Vegan One Pound Meals - Budget-Friendly Recipes all for £1 per person

But back to my story, the funniest thing about this guy, though and what makes him memorable, was he thought vegans could eat ANYTHING, as long as it was raw - aka they could eat raw meat. Lol.

5. Can vegans drink coffee?

can vegans drink coffee

This is probably the one I get asked most often - can vegans drink coffee? I'm not sure why people think coffee is non-vegan: perhaps because coffee consumption is bad for the environment, perhaps because people associate a vegan lifestyle with restrictiveness and no fun (and hence no coffee), or perhaps because lots of people take milk in their coffee. 

If the latter is true, think about black coffee, Americanos and Espressos. All vegan. And lattes or flat whites etc can all become vegan with non-dairy milks like:

What non-dairy milks can vegans drink?

Almond milk, soy milk, cashew milk, coconut milk, rice milk, oat milk, hazelnut milk or hemp milk. And more!

I get it if you don't like one of them with your coffee, but have you tried all of them yet? Experiment a little, go all out and get a Vegan Milker - a tool that makes plant milk from any kind of nut, grain or seed. 

I am actually trying to give up coffee, but only because it makes me too hyper when I drink it and grumpy when I don't #addicted 

Update: I've given up giving up coffee. 

6. Can vegans drink alcohol?

can vegans drink alcohol

Can vegans drink alcohol? Actually, there are lots of wines and beers that vegans can't drink: lots of wines use eggshell to filter, and lots of beers line their pipes with fish (why)?  - Note this is also true for some orange juices!

However, I think most people who are asking if vegans drink alcohol, are coming from a place of "vegans are restrictive, ergo no alcohol" rather than thinking about pipes and egg shells. 

Luckily, there are still plenty of wines and beers vegans can drink and as far as I'm aware almost all spirits are vegan (well apart from those ones with scorpions or worms in, but you know).

7. Can vegans drink Starbucks?

can vegans drink starbucks

When we were in Dubai our friend asked if we could drink Starbucks. Not because he didn't think we could drink coffee (he'd already asked us that a few hours before), but because Starbucks isn't ethical. 

You don't have to be ethical to be a vegan (though you do have to be a vegan to be ethical). So vegans can go to Starbucks. 

Personally, I don't but only cause shitty coffee isn't my thing. 

Vegans can go to McDonald, KFC and Burger King, but I personally don't and this time it actually is for vegan reasons: these 'restaurants' are anti every reason that I am vegan: McDonald's treat animals humans and the environment appallingly, plus it's bad for your health. If we're out and about together and you want to go to McDonalds, I'll wait outside and judge you. If I've been drinking I'll physically stop you from going in (I'm a great friend and a model vegan). Hahah. 

List of things vegans CAN'T eat

If you're still not sure, here is a list of things vegans definitely CANNOT eat:

  • Meat:
  • Beef
  • Chicken
  • Lamb
  • Duck
  • Pork 
  • Bacon
  • Gammon
  • Meat sausages
  • Meat burgers
    • Fish
    • Shellfish
      • Dairy
      • Milk
      • Yoghurt
      • Butter
      • Cheese
      • Cream
        • Eggs
        • Honey
        NB vegans also don't use anything made from animals e.g. silk, feathers, leather etc

        Bonus: List of things vegans CAN eat

        Before you freak out you'll have nothing to eat as a vegan / nothing to feed your vegan friends, here are a list of things vegans can eat. Always:
        • Fruit
        • Vegetables
        • Oats
        • Lentils
        • Tofu
        • Beans
        • Rice
        • Pasta (see above)
        • Bread (see above)
        • Spirits 
        • Couscous
        • Quinoa
        • Potatoes 
        • Chickpeas
        • HUMMUS (everyone's favourite)
        • Seitan
        • Chips
        • Falafel
        • Dark chocolate (double check for milk powder)
        If you're still stuck, I highly highly recommend these books: 

        How Not To Die – Over 100 Recipes to Help Prevent Disease 

        Vegan Comfort Classics – 101 Recipes to Feed Your Face 
        Vegan One Pound Meals – Budget-Friendly Recipes all for £1 per person

        Conclusion: surprising things that vegans CAN eat

        Did it have a face? No. Did it come from something that had a face? No. Then you're good, feed it to your vegan friend. I hope this clears up the 'can vegans eat bread' / 'can vegans eat mushrooms' questions. 

        Initially being vegan is a lot harder than being vegetarian, there are so many foods you don't that contain eggs or dairy that you don't even realise. Like wine. But after a few months, you will adjust and it will be second nature. 

        As for the crazy questions, keep them coming, I love the interesting way people think.

        What about you? What's the strangest thing someone has asked you if you can eat as a vegan?  Which item on the list surprised you the most? I'll admit, I had to double check if vegans can eat yeast. 

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