Fruit – vegan or not?
Which ones can vegans eat? Are they healthy? How do I fit it into my meal plan?
Get your questions answered in this in depth article written by a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist!
Disclaimer: This article is just providing education as well as some of the writers personal opinions. It is not a substitute for medical or dietary advice. Always talk to your doctor about any health concerns or major dietary changes. See our Disclaimers for more details.
Is Fruit Vegan Friendly?
Yes! In the whole form (think: whole apples, pears, etc), fruit is vegan. Inherently, they do not include animal products.
Typically, dried, canned, and frozen fruits are also vegan. However, in some instances, animal products may be present- so check the ingredients!
For example: carmine (a red dye made from beetles) is sometimes present in canned cherries.
As another example, raisins may have a dairy yogurt or milk chocolate coating.
Insect Derived Wax Coating on Oranges and Lemons
What about the wax coating on fruit? Perhaps you read that certain citrus fruits from Tesco could contain coating made from insects in this article from The Guardian.
So, should vegans avoid these fruits?
Interestingly, this topic does not appear to be a high point of discussion in the vegan community.
As someone who identifies as vegan: I wouldn’t be concerned unless I was allergic (FYI- this is just my opinion!) .
Let’s not forget the definition of veganism that includes the words “as far as is possible and practicable” when it comes to excluding forms of exploitation to animals(1).
I personally don’t find it it very “practical” for vegans to avoid nutritious citrus fruit (or even knowing that insects could have been used).
An alternative (organic lemons or oranges in this example) is fertilized with manure(2). One could say that using manure causes animal suffering as well, but I’d venture to guess that most vegans don’t focus on this.
How is it practicable to know everything?
Second, organic produce is not readily available or reasonably affordable for many individuals.
In my opinion, getting bogged down with little details like this only make veganism less attractive to others. I choose to look at the big picture with compassion, and eat citrus fruits (organic or not)!
List of Fruit Vegans Can Eat
Please note, this is not a list of every single fruit out there (that would be extremely long)!
Another note: Botanically speaking, foods we think of as “vegetables,” such as tomatoes, peppers are actually fruit!
Similarly, certain tropical fruits, like coconut and avocados are technically “fruit-” but because of their unique nutritional properties, we did not include them in our list below.
Here is a list of some vegan friendly fruits:
- plums (called “prunes” when dried)
- passion fruit
- star fruit
- honey dew melon
- mandarin oranges
- dragon fruit
- grapes (otherwise known as “raisins” when dried)
Are They Healthy?
Fruit is extremely healthy!
Health benefits include:
- Vitamins and Minerals: Fruit contains essentials nutrients that help to keep our body functioning properly. Nutrients will vary depending on the type of fruit. For example kiwi’s are chockful of potassium and vitamin C. Strawberries have decent amount of biotin and vitamin C.
- Antioxidants: They fight free radicals- something we don’t want too much of because having more than is healthy could contribute to oxidative stress that may promote disease(3). As an example, of an antioxidant in fruit is beta carotene, an antioxidant/ precursor to vitamin A found in mangos.
- Fiber: One review article suggests that at least 2 servings of fiber rich fruits per day could help promote regular bowel movements (aka- poops). The same paper suggests whole fruits and pectin (a soluble fiber found in certain fruits, like pears) may also have a role in lowering cholesterol (4).
- Reduce the Risk of Certain Diseases: Research suggests there is convincing evidence that a eating plenty of fruit (and vegetables) could reduce the risk of diseases such as stroke, heart disease and hypertension (5).
- A Delicious Way to Satisfy Sweet Cravings: Fruit is an overall healthy food that is sweet. Replacing fruit with less healthy foods (such as high sugar sweetened beverages and desserts with refined carbohydrates) is a more nutritionally dense option.
How Do I Fit Them In My Diet?
Easily! Fruit is naturally sweet and needs no seasoning.
You could simply add some fruit to your meals or include them with a plant based protein rich food for a satisfying snack.
Here’s some practical examples:
- Breakfast: Add berries to your bowl of oats. Top plant based yogurt with granola and mango. Place your fruit of choice over some toast with nut butter or tahini.
- Lunch: Have an crispy apple as a side to a tofu egg salad sandwich. Banana “nice cream” with nuts and a drizzle of chocolate makes for a tasty dessert!
- Supper: Add some golden raisins to a vegetable biriyani with Chana masala. Try a medjool date topped with a walnut for dessert.
- Snacks: Awesome on the go options include trail mix that includes dried fruit, and portable fruit in their own packaging (like banana’s and oranges) with nuts!
Tips For Selecting Fruit
It happens to the most of us- you pick out some fruit you thought was ripe, only to find it bland!
Here’s some tips to keep in mind when picking fruit:
- Consider buying fruit when it’s in season. This guide from the USDA lists seasonal fruits.
The added benefit of buying in season means you might get that produce for a cheaper price.
Of course, buying fruit in the off season is great too! Learn how to determine when fruit is ripe, and consider that when you are shopping.
- Love frozen fruit! They are often picked at their peak of ripeness, and so convenient. At any given time, you’ll likely find a bag of some frozen fruit in my freezer!
- Know how to spot ripe fruit. Simply google “how to spot ripe ___ (fill in the blank fruit)” for he helpful pointers!
Considerations for those Living with Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)
It’s best to talk to your doctor and dietitian about what foods you should include or limit. This will be individualized to you based on factors such as your medical history and labs.
For example, some fruits are high in potassium, a nutrient that some individuals living with CKD may need to limit.
Again, this is vary based on certain factors- so talk to your own doctor and dietitian about about a personalized nutrition plan.
Check out podcast episode about vegan diets and CKD to learn more!
Considerations for Those Living with Diabetes
First things first-yes! Those who have diabetes can eat fruit.
Unfortunately, fruit has gotten a bad reputation for diabetes, possibly because of the sugar content.
But here’s the thing – the totality of your diet matters – and fruit can absolutely fit into that pattern.
As we just learned, fruit has so many health benefits that just can’t be ignored.
And we often forget that including fruit is a delightful way to replaces less healthy foods such as highly processed refined sugar heavy dessert and satisfy sweet cravings at the same time.
When looking at canned or pureed fruit, choose those without added sugar. FYI: this is a general healthy recommendation that could apply to those without diabetes as well!
Lastly, dried fruits like dates have more carbohydrates than other fruits like fresh berries when comparing typical serving sizes. That’s just something to be mindful of as those with diabetes may have specific carbohydrates targets to keep in mind. Both can have a place in the diet. So talk to your own dietitian about making fruit fit into your eating pattern.
While fruit is awesome to include, what about fruit only diets? Is that healthy? Lets discuss next.
Should Vegans Only Eat Fruit?
While fruit is healthy, nutritious and delicious, eating only fruit, (sometimes called a “fruitarian”) has several consequences.
For one, you could be missing out on several nutrients that are especially difficult to get enough of with a fruit only diet, such as vitamin B12 and iodine. Nutrient deficiencies and poor health outcomes are just some of the problems you could encounter.
Secondly, this diet can also be incredibly restrictive mentally.
Bottom line: Cutting out food groups is unhealthy. Eat a variety of foods, including fruit (but not exclusively fruit 😉 )!
Vegan Recipes Featuring Fruit
Luckily, the internet is not short of are a variety vegan recipes highlighting fruit!
Here are a few ideas:
- Smoothies – Melissa Altman-Traub MS, RDN, LDN has a handful to try over on her blog.
- Breakfast Ideas – The Plant Based RD Blog features many vegan recipes that feature fruit – such as apple topping for oatmeal, pudding using chia seeds, and more.
- Snacks – Homemade “larabar type” recipes, trail mix, and plant based cookie dough balls like this one from Plant Based Juniors are just a few ideas!
- Desserts – I really enjoy Feasting on Fruit’s vegan recipes that use fruit as sweeteners, such as these vegan fruity “peeps!” For one- I’ve made her vegan oat flour chocolate chip cookies multiple times (pictured below)
Fruit in it’s natural state is vegan! Most dried, frozen, or canned fruits tend to be vegan friendly as well (double check the ingredients).
Unless you are allergic, fruit is a wonderful addition to a healthy varied diet. If you have any questions about adding fruit to your diet, talk to your own doctor/dietitian.
I hope you found this article helpful! Let me know if you have any questions, and be sure to share your favorite easy vegan fruit recipes in the comments!
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Happy learning ❤✌