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Whether you’re going vegan for moral or nutritional reasons, re-hauling your entire diet is a major life change, and the whole process can seem overwhelming.
But that doesn’t mean it has to be difficult. As long as you do your research and take time for preparation, creating a brand new vegan shopping list will be a breeze.
Or maybe you’ve already started your vegan lifestyle, but are looking for some inspiration or ways to avoid nutrient deficiencies.
Just because you have chosen to remove animal products from your diet, it doesn’t mean that you have to limit yourself from delicious food options or miss out on important nutrients.
A well-balanced vegan diet can be chock full of fibers, minerals, and vitamins. It can lead to weight loss, lower cholesterol, and even lower your risk for heart disease.
We’re here to give you a run down on how to make a healthy vegan shopping list, for newbies and experienced vegans alike.
Planning is Key
Before we get into the specifics of your vegan shopping list, it is important to stress how much a little preparation can help you along the way.
You wouldn’t walk into a grocery store without a list, right? That’s a pretty easy way to spend half of your day wandering a store aimlessly and getting home only to realize you forget half of the stuff you wanted.
So before you even get started on a list, think about the week ahead of you.
How many meals will you need to prepare? Are you planning on eating out for any of your meals? Are there any nights where time will be limited, and you need a quick and easy dinner?
Ask yourself all of these questions and then some to help decide what you want to eat for the week. Check out some different recipes in cookbooks, on vegan food blogs, or ask your friends and family for ideas. This will make planning your vegan shopping list simple.
If you’re just getting into the vegan lifestyle or don’t have much experience with meal prepping, it’s best to start easy and work your way up. For example, pick some recipes that you’re really comfortable with, then one or two new ones you want to try out.
It’s also a good idea to plan on having leftovers for some of your meals, that way you don’t feel the need to prep and cook for every single thing you eat throughout the day.
Understanding the Ingredients
Another step before making your vegan shopping list is being in the know about what ingredients aren’t vegan.
I know, you would think it’s pretty simple, avoid animal products, right? But there are a lot of sneaky ingredients lurking in food that would surprise you.
These non-vegan ingredients are usually fillers or additives and can make shopping for packaged foods difficult. Some of the common offenders to look out for are whey powder, bone char, butter fat, carmine, and gelatin.
You can check out a full list of animal derived ingredients on PETA’s website.
Vegan Shopping List Breakdown
Now that you’ve taken the time to think about what you want to eat, what to look out for, and how much you need to buy, it’s finally time to make your list.
Obviously, vegetables are going to be a huge part of your healthy vegan shopping list. Stock up on a variety of fresh and frozen veggies to ensure you don’t get bored with your meals.
Leafy greens are a great staple to have in a vegan diet. Just one cup of kale can provide you with whopping amounts of vitamins, like 206% of your daily value of vitamin A.
Shopping for in-season vegetables is a great way to get the best produce, and if you find a good deal, don’t be scared to stock up and freeze some for the future.
Buying frozen veggies will help you in the long run, due to their long life and versatility. They can be steamed, stir-fried, baked, whatever your heart desires. Another bonus of frozen veggies is that they are flash frozen when they are ripe, ensuring you get all of the good nutrients and antioxidants.
- Bell Peppers
- Salad mixes
- Butter lettuce
- Leaf lettuce
Fresh, frozen, and dried fruits should all be utilized in your vegan shopping list.
Just like frozen vegetables, frozen fruit will be full of vitamins and nutrients due to the fact that it’s frozen at peak ripeness. Use frozen fruits in smoothies for a nutritional start to your day, or top of your morning oatmeal with some fresh slices of strawberry.
Dried fruit is a great option for healthy snacking, which is essential to fighting cravings and avoiding bad moods.
One thing to keep in mind though is to not overdo the amount of fruit you add to your diet. It’s easy to think fruit is good for you, and therefore you can eat it non-stop, but too much fruit can lead to too many carbs.
- Mixed fruit blends
- Mixed berries
- Banana chips
Just because you’ve chosen a vegan lifestyle doesn’t mean you have to give up milk!
Well, not technically at least.
There are plenty of non-dairy milk and yogurt options available today. And then within your options, you can usually choose sweetened or non-sweetened milk. Some even have different flavors, like chocolate!
Grains and Beans
Whole wheat and whole grain options are great for adding balance to your vegan diet. Dried beans and legumes are versatile and have a long shelf life, giving you plenty of options when deciding your meals for the week.
You can also opt for canned beans, adding an extra level of convenience to your food prep.
Quinoa is considered a protein-packed superfood, and its uses are seemingly endless. It can be used as a side, in salads, or even baked in cookies!
Tempeh, a fermented soybean product, has great flavor and is easy to prepare!
Grains and Starches
- Brown rice
- Sweet potatoes
Beans and Legumes
- Black beans
- Kidney beans
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are a great pantry item for anyone, especially those with a vegan diet. They can be used for snacking, cooking, baking, or be used to make non-dairy milk or nut butter.
They are a healthy source of fat, in moderation of course, and can be bought in bulk and stored for future use.
- Almond butter
- Cashew butter
- Sesame butter
- Chia seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Sunflower seed butter
- Pumpkin seeds
- Ground flax seeds
When stocking up on different vegan condiments, just remember to keep the ingredients in mind.
Get into the habit of reading labels so you don’t get caught eating one of those sneaky non-vegan ingredients.
But don’t let that scare you because condiments are essential to variety in your meals, and should definitely have a place on your vegan shopping list.
Hummus, a chickpea and tahini dip, can be eaten with your favorite veggies or used as a spread on a sandwich!
Nutritional yeast, while it sounds kind of scary, is a great way to give a vegan dish a cheesy taste and texture.
- Vegan mayo
- Balsamic vinegar
- White vinegar
- Soy sauce
- Nutritional Yeast
- Vegetable bouillon
Just because you’re going vegan doesn’t mean you have to give up on baking sweet treats, like cookies and brownies.
All it takes is a little innovation and smart swaps, and you can eat all of the vegan-approved sweets your heart desires.
- Coconut oil
- Apple cider vinegar
- Whole grain flour
- Ground flax seed
- Nut butters
- Non-dairy milk
- Earth Balance butter
Say you’re new to the vegan diet and you’re just having a hard time giving up certain foods. Or maybe you’ve been a vegan for 10 years, but you still dream about bacon.
That’s where vegan alternatives and meat substitutes can come in handy.
The only drawback is that some substitutes can be highly processed, so either enjoy in moderation or be very diligent about reading ingredients.
- Veggie burgers
- Veggie hot dogs
- Veggie sausage
- Tempeh bacon
- Marinated tofu
- Soy cheese
- Soy coffee creamer
- Earth Balance butter
Moving Forward With Your Vegan Diet
While this vegan shopping list obviously doesn’t have all of your options, it is a good reference for those of you just getting into a vegan lifestyle or those who want to get some ideas on what to buy next.
Just remember, planning and preparation are your best friends, and knowledge about the ingredients you put in your body will help you make the best vegan choices.
Want more information on vegan diets or looking for some new, well-balanced recipes? Get started here!