10 Types of Vegans

Are you curious about starting a vegan diet, but feel like it’s too limiting? Dive into the world of veganism by learning the different types of vegans and your diet options. Understand vegan’s motivations and discover new vegan options for your diet with this comprehensive guide.

If you think it's too rigid for you life, look at this post on 10 Ways to Be Vegan for ideas on how you can incorporate more vegan into your everyday diet and living.

What is a Vegan Diet?

We can define a vegan diet in a nutshell: it excludes eating animal products, including meat, eggs, and dairy.

There are many reasons why people choose a vegan diet, and some of these may surprise you:

  • Environmental concerns
  • Personal ethical beliefs
  • Health concerns
  • A desire to try something new
  • A tick bite — Some tick bites can leave a person unable to eat mammal-related products. [Source]

Whatever the reason, a vegan diet can be a healthy and mindful way to eat.

There is an abundance of vegan food options available these days. That makes a vegan diet an enjoyable and rewarding lifestyle choice that benefits you and the planet. More on that below.

A bowl of vegan broccoli soup has croutons on top.
Vegans eat a variety of dishes, including vegan broccoli soup.

Different Types of Vegan

I read an article about celebrity vegans going on and off the diet. This made me wonder, can a person be vegan by degrees?

Then I thought about some of the conversations I’ve had with folks throughout the year. There are a lot of people who start a vegan diet but find the day-in-day-out commitment to be less than palatable.

And all this thinking led me to a conclusion: you don’t have to be “whole hog” to be vegan. Um, I think I  violated a major vegan law just by saying that.

In fact, after even more deep thoughts on the subject, there are very few people who are 100%, full-throttle vegans in the first place.

Vegan Extremes

Let me explain. If the definition of vegan is to eat or behave in a manner that causes zero animal suffering, then it’s nearly impossible for the average city-dwelling person to be 100% vegan.

Tires, for example, have animal products in them. You can choose not to have a car, but does that mean you won’t ride in any vehicle with tires? It’s hard to imagine most people making that choice.

Thousands of small animals are killed each year in the harvesting of grains and vegetables. Does this mean to be completely vegan, you must grow your own food? Like I say, for most city-dwelling, air-breathing folks, that’s a tall order.

Even for those who are so committed to veganism that they choose to walk on dirt roads and resist the glares of their neighbors by planting their front yard with vegetables, is that truly something they expect from everyone around them?

That would make veganism such a hardship that it would severely limit the number of people who could or would adopt it as a lifestyle.

Secular Vegan

I’m not arguing against becoming a vegan. What I am suggesting, though, is that it’s nearly impossible for most of us to be an extreme vegan. So that’s why I decided to explore these 10 types of vegans concept.

Over the years I’ve realized I’m not an extremist. That means I don’t get into the dogma of veganism. So I coined the term secular vegan.

You can be vegan and be a normal, happy person just trying to do her best.

I figure once the average person realizes you can participate in the vegan arena by selecting a vegan type? That’s really empowering!

There are many ways you can slice and dice a vegan lifestyle, but here are 10 Ways to Be Vegan that I’m sharing with you today:

Dietary Vegan

These are folks that don’t eat meat, dairy or eggs, but are not as picky when it comes to things like leather or non-food animal-based products.

Most dietary vegans are after the health benefits of a vegan diet, which can make this one harder to stick to. Of course, if you’re seeing improvements in certain health measurements, such as lowered cholesterol, that certainly. helps.

If you’re curious about being a dietary vegan, be sure to check out the vegan startup guide for more resources.

Ethical Vegan

Ethical Vegans also don’t eat meat, dairy or eggs, but they take it to the next level by steering clear of animal-based products like leather.

I find most ethical vegans are motivated by their love of animals and don’t want to cause suffering. If you’ve ever seen videos of mama cows being separated from their calves (for dairy farming purposes), it’s understandable.

You could even consider changing up your language. For example, these animal friendly sayings are a playful way to steer clear of animal cruelty.

Green Vegan

A Green Vegan may appear to be the same as an Ethical Vegan, but they do it for a different reason.

A green vegan avoids animal products because of the impacts that industrial farming has on the environment.

A good example that comes to mind for me is Jane Goodall. I read that she chose to give up meat and dairy after visiting factory farms and seeing how the animals were treated, and understanding the impact this has on the environment as a whole.

Having driven by factory farms myself, I completely understand this rationale. It is devastating to see it in person.

Raw Vegan

As the name implies, Raw Vegans eat their food, well, raw! It’s a strictly plant-based diet, and they don’t eat anything that’s been cooked over 105F.

I’ve seen different requirements for the temperature allowance. It’s all about the nutritional impact that cooking has on plants.

If it sounds too restrictive, you should see some of the amazing raw meals they prepare. For example, take a look at this vegan raw cheesecake!

Looking down on a vegan raw cheesecake with fresh blueberries on top. A slice is being lifted out with a spatula.

However, itt can be a time-consuming way to live, but there’s no doubt it’s healthy!

Plant-Based Vegan

The main difference between a Plant-Based Vegan and other vegans, is that they’re picky about the source of their food.

Whereas a dietary vegan may feel free to eat processed foods, such as non-dairy cheeses or processed veggie burgers, a Plant-Based Vegan will eschew processed foods for whole foods, such as beans and legumes.

Plant-based vegans prefer all-natural recipes, such as Lentil Sloppy Joes, over using processed veggie crumbles.

The Paris Vegan

Otherwise known as the “Paris Exception” this diet’s poster child is the philosopher Peter Singer. he describes the Paris Vegan this way, “If you find yourself in a fine restaurant, allow yourself to eat what you want, and if you have no access to vegan food, going vegetarian is acceptable.”

Translation? Eat vegan daily, but when you find yourself in a tough spot, don’t beat yourself up for going vegetarian.

Vegan By Day or Hour

Some people choose to eat vegan on certain days of the week or at certain times of the day. Here are some examples.


Food writer Mark Bittman is the author of the book VB6: Eat Vegan Before 6:00 to Lose Weight and Restore Your Health for Good where he encourages a strict vegan diet (including no meat, dairy, or processed food) before 6 pm each day.

After 6 pm you can eat whatever you want (within moderation). For Bittman, who had been diagnosed pre-diabetic, this solution helped him avoid a lifetime of medications.

Weekday/Weekend Vegan

Some people choose to be vegan on weekdays and eating whatever they want on the weekends. Following this kind of eating plan may work better for people who are not ready for a full-time commitment.

Or maybe it’s the opposite, and they choose vegan on the weekends. You can see how this is a great way to dip your toe in the vegan waters!

Virtually Vegan

Don’t want to take the full vegan plunge? Become a virtual vegan!

This is the type of vegan that doesn’t eat meat and, for the most part, avoids dairy. They don’t buy eggs or milk, but if a trace amount of dairy happens to be in their favorite 12-grain bread, they’re not going to worry about it.

They also aren’t worried about using honey. You know, if you think about it, honey is a very natural sweetener and beekeepers are very motivated to take good care of their bees.

Virtual Vegans probably live a high percentage of their day avoiding animal products, but they’re not going to sweat the small stuff.

Travel Vegan

My daughter created this one and I think it deserves discussion. A Travel Vegan is someone who is vegan most of the time but makes exceptions when traveling.

One of the benefits of travel is exposing yourself to new experiences and cultures. Most cultures have their own music, traditions, and styles. And, yes, they even have defined dishes. Just as you take in the sounds and the sites of these new cultures, you may choose to take in their food as well.

Your avoidance of these foods could hamper your experience and limit your world view. So, for example, if you’re in France, a Travel Vegan would enjoy a croissant. If they’re in New Orleans, they’d have a beignet. It’s part of the experiences of those cultures.

Bivalve Vegan

I recently had a discussion with Diana Fleischmann, an evolutionary psychologist, who introduced me to the idea of a Bivalve Vegan. It’s a vegan who eats oysters and mussels, aka bivalves.

You might be wrinkling your nose at the thought of this but, Diana raises some outstanding arguments for this diet.

For example, the fact that oysters and mussels are classified as animals is actually controversial. That’s because they fall into a category that doesn’t necessarily meet the definition of an animal.

In addition, the nutrients provided by bivalves offset specific nutritional deficiencies presented by a vegan diet, such as omega-3s.

Vegan Equivalent Diet

In addition to the Bivalve Vegan diet, Dr. Fleischmann spoke to me about how you can make minor tweaks to your omnivore diet to be 90% equivalent vegan when it comes to reducing animal suffering.

Interestingly enough, many people will tell you to give up beef, but Diana suggests that you give up chicken instead. Her reasoning is that you may eat hundreds if not thousands, of chickens in your lifetime.

Think of all the suffering that is involved with that.

However, if you give up chicken and only eat beef, you will eliminate lots of chicken suffering and in your lifetime you may eat the equivalent of one cow.

You’ll need to listen in to get a better idea of Dr. Fleischmann’s points on this, but it’s an interesting discussion and one you might consider on your diet journey.

Levels of Veganism

I love talking about the different types of vegans and vegan diets. I see it as a discussion about choices. At some point, you’re going to make a decision about what percentage of veganism you can afford or be happy with.

For me, that 90 – 98% range works just fine. On a day-to-day basis, I don’t eat any meat, dairy, or eggs. I even read the labels on my garments and shoes and do my best to avoid the ones made with leather and angora.

I don’t ask the waiter if the bun that comes with my veggie burger has egg in it.

These are decisions you will have to make for yourself.

What’s your vegan type? Take the survey to find out!

Vegan Social Situations

There have been times when family or friends go out of their way to make me a vegan dish. How nice is that! For example, my sister makes this delicious rice broccoli casserole for Thanksgiving each year.

Then she started making a special batch for my vegan crew and me. I’m pretty sure the soy cheese she bought at her small-town store is the one that has trace amounts of dairy in it.

Can someone please tell me why a soy-based cheese would have dairy in it?  I mean, aren’t most people who buy soy cheese wanting to avoid dairy?

Anyway, I refuse to make an issue out of it, and I eat it with the gusto and love it deserves. In my mind, any other reaction would be rude.

Imagine someone going out of their way to make something special for the vegan in their life. Then imagine them receiving a lecture or patronizing comment about how the cheese they used was only 98% vegan. Really?

Besides, my sister can still beat me up. I don’t want to push her over the edge.

Guilt-Free Vegan

I know there are a lot of well-intentioned people who really want to make a vegan lifestyle work. The problem is when they feel guilt over not staying strictly vegan 24/7. I hope this Vegan Types List helps shed some light on the options available.

This is my secular vegan mantra: Do the best you can every day. That’ll do.

Some days are not so good, but others are great, and those are the ones to focus on and strive for. If giving up mozzarella feels like pulling out a fingernail, then just relax about it.

Everything is about balance. Overall, you know you’re making decisions that are so much better for your body, animals, and the environment. My mom loves it when I say this, so here goes: It’s all good.

Either I’m brilliant or my mom is easily amused. Anyway, with time, your taste buds will catch up with you, and you won’t even crave mozzarella cheese anymore. This was my experience!

Or maybe you won’t and you’ll choose to have some from time to time.

I’ll say it again…it’s all good.

If you’re new to a vegan diet, here are some of my favorite vegan recipes for beginners.

Benefits of Veganism

Veganism offers so many health benefits! For example, eating a healthy plant-based diet can lead to lower levels of cholesterol, reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, and even protection from certain types of cancer. [Source]

Studies also show that vegan diets can improve mood and reduce stress.

A plant-based diet also has a lower carbon footprint. A vegan diet will reduce your toll on the environment because animal agriculture is a leading cause of climate change. If the whole world went vegan, we would shave off 8 billion tons of CO2 equivalent. [Source]

Ultimately, veganism is a great way to have a positive influence on your personal health and the planet’s health.

If you’re curious about veganism but don’t think you could do a 24/7 thing, learning about the types of veganism can be helpful.

Veganism can be about you finding your authentic swing and chiseling away at the parts that are inauthentic. That’s a quote, by the way, from one of my favorite books, The Authentic Swing, by Steven Pressfield, the author of The Legend of Bagger Vance.


All these different types of vegan diets are based on the same principle: reducing or eliminating animal-based products.

Each of these vegan-type options can be used to tailor your vegan lifestyle based on your values and preferences.

By learning about the different types of veganism, you take the first step toward a change that can benefit you and our environment.

Then, share this post with your friends and family to help spread the word about different types of veganism and their benefits.

78 Responses to 10 Types of Vegans

  1. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyYarn Girl Reply

    Love this post. I’m a new Vegetarian (Ovo-Lacto, but will/do eat vegan meals).

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Thanks Yarn Girl! I think we’re on the same page. I just talked with someone this weekend who described herself as mostly vegan but occasionally eats outside of that. I believe they refer to that as flexitarian or part-time vegan. I’m happy to meet and great people wherever they are on this journey!

  2. Avatar thumbnail image for Marlyholly Reply

    I am amazed by the lack of respect that people are displaying toward someone who so obviously cares for animals and the environment itself. Not to mention, you probably hit a nerve with people who don’t realize about the thousands of hidden animal derivatives in *things* they use on a daily basis. Bring out the pitchforks!! 

    I live in a rural town with no stoplights, retail chains, and a main street less than a mile long. The only comment I’ve ever received about being a vegetarian is that “I look like a vegetarian” and this is from folks who eat meat, raise livestock, and are not ashamed of it. We accept each other much like I accept the Coyote who came in my yard this morning to steal my chickens. We don’t have the same values, but we have learned to co-exist and find a common ground.

    After reading some of these posts, I can only imagine how a vegan would react if they knew that I raised chickens and guinea fowl (who free-range from dusk to dawn), and have been happily married to a “meat-eating” spouse for 20+ years who loves my vegetarian cooking. That said, I don’t eat dairy, but I have no problem sticking an egg or two in a dish, or my daughter baking with them, or sharing with my neighbours. My hens are PROUD LAYING MAMAS!!

    Anyhoo, loving animals more than I do people is why we live off the grid and why I don’t eat them. And instead of damning people for thinking outside the box, we should applaud everyone who chooses to use a fork (or chopstiks!) over a knife. Regardless if its one meal a week, 3 meals a day, or 7 days a week.
    In my opinion, veganism is much like politics and religion. Full of rainbow coloured vistas, gray areas, and a bit of black and white. Not everyone adheres to the same theories which makes us unique *human beings*. If extremists expect for people (meat-eaters and non-alike) to respect animals, perhaps they should take a good look in the mirror and ask: “How can I encourage people to switch to plant-based meals and to not use animal products without berating them?”

    Ironically enough, I found your website on the PETA website as they featured your “Crockpot Bulgogi Jackfruit” recipe. So Marty, you must be doing something right even if the PETA gods approve of your work 😉

    Keep up the great work and thank you for the inspiration!

    “The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that’s the essence of inhumanity.” 

    -George Bernard Shaw

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Thanks so much, Holly! I can tell already that you and I would be buds if we lived in the same area! I grew up in a small town so the description of how you live sounds so familiar. In fact, my sister still lives in a small town and guess what? She has chickens too! Michael Pollan (author of the book Omnivores Dilemma) talks about how much better it is for the environment and even the flavor of the eggs for chickens to be allowed to roam and eat things besides the feed given to them in factory farming. I love your approach to your family and the way you treat others in your life. You are SUCH an inspiration. Thanks for making my day. I will come back and read your comment often!

  3. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyDennis von EcoYou Reply

    Hey Marly,
    thank you for this lovely article!
    The Vegan Lifestyle is getting more and more interesting for me at moment but I still enjoy eating meat. The VB6 seems to be a really cool solution for this. From there I maybe could progress to the weekday/weekend vegan. 🙂

  4. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyStephanie Reply

    Lisa, I’m so sorry to read about your lack of access. For years, I found vegetarian events and restaurants had no clue what to do with wheat-allergic me. Now they’re full of gluten free options. Have you requested ASL interpreters at vegan events? They need to know there are communities being excluded!

  5. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyLisa Reply

    As a Deaf Vegan, I truly appreciate your post. Thanks so much! It can get very isolating as a Deaf Vegan especially when vegan events rarely provide interpreters, and I can’t just bump into people making new friends. If they want to be friends with me, they will have to learn American Sign Language, which often doesn’t interest them beyond knowing curse words.

    The Deaf world is very diverse, and it is impossible to find a Deaf Vegan community in one place. All of us are spread all over the world, so. When I attend a Deaf event, I usually become a vegetarian (hence the “Paris Vegan” term). It is not fair to assume that all Vegans come from the same culture. Some cultures are very family-based and community-based. It is not fair to compare some vegans to the others especially when they may have challenges in their lives not experienced by the others.

  6. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyJen Reply

    Thank you for your post. I think it is spot on and whatever labels we want to give ourselves are acceptable on this journey. Every bite makes a difference! You might enjoy seeing the fruits of this gentler movement.


  7. Avatar thumbnail image for MarlySammie Wright Reply

    This describes plant based people or vegetarians ….. This does not describe vegans. You need to look up the definition – vegan is much more then just diet and is a belief system. What you have written does not apply to vegans in any way!

    • Avatar thumbnail image for MarlyMarly

      Hi Sammie. I’m sure there is SO much we agree on, but this is one area where we don’t. I choose to focus on the areas we agree and to respectfully choose to agree to disagree about this. It’s why I call myself a secular vegan. Because I respect others’ choices, but at the same time choose a more compassionate form of veganism for myself and champion that approach for others as well.

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