veg·​an ˈvē-gən How to pronounce vegan (audio)
ˈvā- How to pronounce vegan (audio)
ˈve-jən How to pronounce vegan (audio)
-ˌjan How to pronounce vegan (audio)
: a strict vegetarian who consumes no food (such as meat, eggs, or dairy products) that comes from animals
also : one who abstains from using animal products (such as leather)
vegan adjective
vegan desserts
a vegan restaurant

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The Difference Between Vegetarian, Vegan, and Other Diets

The word vegetarian sprouted up in 1839. Fruitarian ("a person who lives on fruit") ripened by 1893. In 1944, vegetarians who consume no animal or dairy products began calling themselves vegans. Then, in 1993, those who eat fish but no other meat chose pesce, the Italian word for "fish," to create the designation pescatarian. In that same year, meatatarian was served up as a word for those whose diet largely includes meat; that word is rare, however, and is usually used in informal and humorous ways, making it the type of fare not included in our dictionaries. Another fairly recent dietary word is flexitarian, a person who follows a mostly vegetarian diet but occasionally eats meat or fish.

Examples of vegan in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web First is the mobile app and website Happy Cow, which lists vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants from all around the world, and second is TikTok. Laurie Larsh, Charlotte Observer, 8 Feb. 2024 Guests stay in one of 21 private cottages and enjoy an active schedule of low-impact exercise, massages, and a 1,400 calorie-a-day vegan diet. Evie Carrick, Travel + Leisure, 7 Feb. 2024 Dressing options include sesame ginger, mango habanero, vegan and dairy-free cheese sauce, marinara, buffalo, barbecue and pesto. Brianna Taylor, Sacramento Bee, 6 Feb. 2024 The exterior is made of organic cotton, while the inside includes a vegan cork and mamona oil insert. Nicol Natale, Peoplemag, 3 Feb. 2024 In a recent study, Gardner and his colleagues compared the effects of a healthy vegan diet to a healthy omnivore diet by closely following 22 sets of identical twins over an eight-week period. Carina Woudenberg, Discover Magazine, 2 Feb. 2024 Among the menu highlights: vegan and coconut tofu with seasonal vegetables and quinoa rice; chicken ricotta burger with spicy aioli; and local fish with seared radish, arugula, and salsa verde. Lesley Abravanel, Miami Herald, 30 Jan. 2024 There’s also a vegan matcha tart with coconut and cashew milk mousse topped with raspberry coulis and a fluffy matcha waffles sprinkled with matcha and powdered sugar. Linda Bladholm, Miami Herald, 30 Jan. 2024 Creamy Potato Chowder Cashews get blended along with potatoes for creamy richness in this vegan recipe that employs soy sauce, herbs and spices for savory flavor. Becky Krystal, Washington Post, 27 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'vegan.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


by contraction from vegetarian entry 1

First Known Use

1944, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of vegan was in 1944

Dictionary Entries Near vegan

Cite this Entry

“Vegan.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


veg·​an ˈvē-gən How to pronounce vegan (audio)
: a strict vegetarian who does not use animals or dairy products for food
vegan adjective
veganism noun

Medical Definition


: a strict vegetarian who consumes no animal food or dairy products
vegan adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on vegan

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