Vegan food encompasses a variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and plant-based proteins

Vegan Food Terms

Vegan Food Terms

Don't know your tempeh from your seitan? Don't worry, we got you. Now that veganism is on the rise thanks to its many health benefits, you'll want to learn the basics of vegan terminology.

Whether you're a vegan newbie, a flexitarian (semi-vegetarian who occasionally eats meat) or you just want to get through a vegan restaurant menu without asking a million questions, our glossary of vegan food terms will help you understand this increasingly popular plant-based diet.


Carob: sourced from carob trees, the pods are dried, roasted and ground into carob powder or chips; used as an entirely plant-based, caffeine-free substitute for chocolate with a nuttier and roasted flavor


Gardein: brand of plant-based meat substitutes ranging from "chicken tenders" to "meatballs" found in the supermarket freezer section; made from soy, wheat and pea proteins, vegetables and grains including quinoa, amaranth, millet and kamut


Nut cheese: non-dairy cheese made from nuts such as almonds, macadamia, cashew, hazelnut or pistachio; can range from spreadable versions (similar to cream cheese) to sandwich slices to solid blocks to grated cheese
Nut milk: milk-like beverage made from any number of nuts including almond, macadamia, cashew, hazelnut or any combination thereof


Seitan: cooked wheat gluten; a high-protein food that mimics the chewy texture and consistency of meat
Soy: protein derived from soybeans, used as a replacement for animal protein in food


Tempeh: originally from Indonesia, these fermented soybeans are typically offered in block form that can be minced, diced or cut into strips (similar to bacon); used as a protein source
Tofu: high-protein, highly versatile curd made from mashed soybeans; an almost tasteless staple used mainly in Asian and vegan/vegetarian cooking, it takes on the flavor of the spices and seasonings used in preparing the dish

To help you even further, check out GAYOT's lists of
New York City vegan restaurants
• Los Angeles vegan restaurants
San Francisco vegan restaurants

Learn more food terms for other cuisine types