The Twelve Vegan Food Groups

You might have grown up using the classic Four Food Groups chart, but it is no longer used and has been updated to display five groups. However, both the four and five group charts place excess emphasis on animal-based foods and not enough on selecting for variety in the diet. The Twelve Groups shown here are formed according to the type or part of the plant they represent. This naturally groups the nutrient content you can expect from a food, too. For instance, green foods supply you with vitamins and minerals that are very different from those provided by yeasts and fungi. When you follow the simple guidance below, you are sure to build variety into your diet. And it is variety that helps you obtain all the nutrients you need, consistently and reliably, to create optimal health.

Eat from as many of these groups as you can on a daily basis; from each of them on a weekly basis.

You don’t need massive amounts from each group; ‘little and often’ is a good rule to follow.

Food Group

Includes these foods

Great for…

Beans & Lentils

Dried: Aduki, Black Beans, Butter Beans, Chickpeas, Fava or Ful Medames, Haricot, Kidney, Lentils (Red & Green), Mung Beans, Soy, Split Peas

Fresh: Borlotti, Broad (Lima), French Beans, Fresh Green Peas, String Beans

  • slow-release energy
  • health of the gut
  • low in fat
  • gluten-free
  • low Glycaemic Index (GI) score
  • no cholesterol
  • build & repair muscle
Nuts & Seeds

Nuts: Almond, Brazil, Cashew, Chestnut, Hazelnut, Macadamia, Pecan, Walnut

Seeds: Chia, Flax, Nigella, Pine nut, Pistachio, Poppy, Pumpkin, Sesame, Sunflower

  • healthy fats
  • nutrient powerhouses
  • energy dense snacks
  • build & repair tissues
  • tasty toppings
Oils, Fats & Butters


Carob & Hazelnut Butter, Coconut oil, Flax seed oil, Hemp seed oil, Olive oil, Peanut Butter, Pistachio Butter, Sesame oil, Tahini
  • good fats benefit health
  • transport nutrients
  • enhance immunity
  • reduce disease processes
  • butters are high-protein
Whole Grains & Grain Products

Whole: Amaranth, Barley, Buckwheat, Corn, Einkorn, Millet, Oats, Quinoa, Rice, Rye, Spelt, Teff, Wheat, Wild Rice

Products: Breads, Cereals, Crackers, Flours, Muesli, Noodles, Pasta, Rolled grains

  • slow-release energy
  • fibre-rich carbs
  • healthy metabolism
  • improve health of gut
  • calming & satisfying
  • build & repair tissues
Herbs & Spices

Herbs: Basil, Chervil, Chives, Cilantro/Coriander, Fennel, Lavender, Lemon Balm, Marjoram, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Sage, Tarragon, Thyme

Spices: Allspice/pimento, Black Pepper, Caraway, Cardamom, Chilli, Chinese Five-spice, Cinnamon, Cloves, Cumin, Ginger, Horseradish, Mustard, Nutmeg, Paprika, Turmeric

  • variety of colours
  • strong, pleasant flavours
  • appetizing aromas
  • increase appeal of meals
  • support immunity
  • contain antioxidants
  • contain other substances that benefit health
  • use fresh or dried
  • can be blended to maximize on health-giving qualities
Fresh & Dried Fruit

Apple, Apricot, Avocado, Banana, Berries, Cherry, Clementine, Date, Fig, Grape, Grapefruit, Lemon, Lime, Mango, Medlar, Melon, Nectarine, Orange, Pear, Plum, Quince, Tangerine
  • slow-release energy
  • healthy snacks
  • quick-release energy
  • health of gut
  • regularize bowel movements
Water & Beverages

Filtered tap water, Fruit juice, Green tea, Herbal teas, Mineral waters; Bean, Grain, Nut or Seed milks, Smoothies, Vegetable juice, White tea
  • water benefits every body function
  • ensures hydration
  • transport of nutrients
  • stabilizes temperature
  • cell form & structure
  • chemical and electrical actions in your cells
Green & Leafy Vegetables

Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Cavalo Nero, Chard, Dandelion, Endive, Kale, Kalettes, Landcress, Lettuce, Mustard, Nasturtium, Pak choi, Rocket, Romanesco, Root Greens, Sorrel, Spinach, Tatsoi, Watercress
  • health-giving nutrients
  • improve health of gut
  • boost immunity
  • prevent chronic illness
  • prevent serious illness
  • high in fibre
  • colourful and delicious
  • low in fat
Yellow, Orange & Red Vegetables

Beetroot, Carrot, Pumpkin, Radicchio, Radish, Shiso, Squash, Sweetcorn, Sweet Pepper, Sweet Potato, Tomato
  • nutrient dense
  • benefit your eyes
  • benefit your skin
  • benefit mucous membranes
  • improve immunity
  • improve health of gut
Roots & Stem Vegetables

Celeriac, Celery, Fennel, Garlic, Ginger, Jerusalem Artichoke, Kohlrabi, Onion, Parsnip, Potato, Rhubarb, Rutabaga/ Swede, Turnip
  • slow-release energy
  • variety of nutrients
  • contain other substances of benefit to health
  • improve health of gut
Sea Vegetables & Algae

Agar, Arame, Chlorella, Dulse, Hijiki, Kelp/Laver, Kombu, Nori, Spirulina, Wakame
  • almost every nutrient
  • iodine included
  • can have 10x mineral content of land plants
  • you don’t need much
  • enhance the flavour of soups, beans and sauces
Yeasts, Fungi & Ferments

Ale, Beer, Bread yeast, Kimchi, Kombucha, Miso, Mushrooms, Nutritional yeast flakes, Pickles, Sauerkraut, Sourdough bread, Tempeh, Tofu, Vinegars, Wine, Yeast extract
  • add nutrient value to basic foods
  • ease digestibility
  • help digest proteins
  • help to preserve foods
  • perform conversions that make ‘new’ foods, such as beer or tempeh
  • improve health of gut
Peggy Brusseau

Peggy Brusseau

Peg is here to help you every step of the way along your journey to a healthy & happy vegan lifestyle. Take the first step and sign up for her free newsletter!


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