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

Did you know?

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.

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Since high school, both of my best friends have been vegan. Magdalena O'neal, Sunset Magazine, 14 Nov. 2022 Well, here’s a news flash: Not all whitening strips are vegan. Iron Monk Solutions, The Salt Lake Tribune, 7 Nov. 2022 The book also includes several vegetarian and vegan adaptations, and instructions for preparing soups in a slow cooker or InstaPot. Stefene Russell, The Salt Lake Tribune, 14 Nov. 2022 Classes include vegetarian and vegan menus to mastering duck à l’orange and Italian meatballs. Kim Sunée, Anchorage Daily News, 27 Oct. 2022 The narrator is a writer or an academic, a vegetarian or a vegan. Hannah Rosefield, The New Republic, 14 Oct. 2022 Zwanenberg produces meat preserves, snacks, soups, sauces, convenience meals, vegetarian and vegan products. Fox19, The Enquirer, 13 Oct. 2022 My nephew’s family are all meat eaters; none are vegetarian or vegan. Jacobina Martin, Washington Post, 7 Oct. 2022 But how many South Florida restaurants are exclusively vegetarian or vegan? Lois K. Solomon, Sun Sentinel, 4 Oct. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'vegan.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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 6 Dec. 2022.

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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