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.
Physically, Mentally Plant-Based
Vegan Shopping List Preparation
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, butterfat, carmine, and gelatin.
You can check out a full list of animal-derived ingredients on PETA’s website.
Did you know that Oreos are vegan?
The Fundamentals of a Vegan Shopping List
We’ll start off with the main areas for a healthy plant-based diet.
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.
We try to use frozen wherever possible in our meal plans to avoid leftovers.
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.
- Banana chips
- Goji Berries
- Mixed fruit blends
- Mixed berries
Obviously, vegetables are going to be a huge part of your healthy vegan grocery 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.
- Acorn squash
- Artichoke hearts
- Brussels sprouts
- Spaghetti Squash
- Butternut squash
- Sweet potato
- Bok choy
- Butter lettuce
- Collard Greens
- Leaf lettuce
- Salad mixes
- Swiss Chard
- Brussel Sprouts
Grains in your vegan shopping list
Whole grains are great sources of complex carbs, protein, vitamins, and minerals.
Refined grains are processed and not as healthy. They are digested much faster and cause insulin spikes.
Stick to whole grains wherever possible. So for example substitute white rice for black rice.
Grains do contain some antinutrients. Sprouting helps to reduce these.
- Oats and oat bran
- Rice (wild, black, brown)
- Whole-wheat flour
- Bread (white)
- Rice (white)
- White flour
Beans and Legumes
Beans are the richest source of vegan protein.
They are also packed with many other important nutrients such as zinc, potassium, iron, B vitamins and magnesium.
Pair them with some vitamin C to improve iron bioavailability.
It’s important to integrate them into your diet. They are also super cheap if you buy them dry!
One of my favorite high protein breakfast recipes is this Chickpea Protein Shake add this to your vegan shopping list
Dried beans contain antinutrients, which impede nutrient absorption, so it’s important to process them properly. They need to either be soaked overnight with a couple of teaspoons of apple cider vinegar, or cooked on high heat in a pressure cooker.
But don’t be too worried! Getting some of these antinutrients is good for you.
For example, consumption of phytates has been found to help prevent kidney stones, diabetes, cancer, and coronary heart disease.
Canned beans are already low in anti-nutrients, which are destroyed during processing. One study showed lectin was reduced to less than 0.1% of its original level
When buying soy products it’s important to look for non-GMO. In the 1990s GM soy crossed with peanut was created. It now makes up 90% of all soy products.
GMO foods like this may well be the cause of the spike in food allergies in recent years.
- Adzuki beans
- Black beans
- Black-eyed peas
- Chickpea flour
- Fava beans
- Kidney beans
- Lima beans
- Mung beans
- Navy beans
- Pinto beans
- Split peas
- String beans
- White beans
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are a great source of healthy fats on a plant-based diet. Fat gets a bad wrap but it’s essential for your health.
Along with fat nuts are also a great source of vitamin E, copper, manganese, selenium, zinc, and various antioxidants.
They are naturally satiating, so although higher in calories, they keep you full for longer. In fact, one review of 31 trials found that people who included extra nuts and seeds in their diet lost about 1.4 extra pounds compared to those that didn’t.
- Almond Flour
- Brazil Nuts
- Hemp seeds
- Macadamia nuts
- Pine nuts
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Tahini (sesame seed butter)
Spices and Herbs
Spices and herbs can make a huge difference to the end result of a meal.
They can make it bitter, cooling, earthy, floral, fruity, herbaceous, hot, nutty, piney, pungent, sour, spicy, sulfury, sweet, and woody.
However, did you know that they are also packed with antioxidants and other health benefits?
Curcumin is a potent anti-inflammatory with effects comparable to ibuprofen but without the health risks. It’s also anti-microbial and helps against cancer.
Garlic is another antimicrobial that also decreases blood pressure and tastes great of course.
Parsley promotes healthy hair due to a flavonoid called apigenin. Plus it helps prevent halitosis and flatulence.
- Chili powder
- Green onion
- Ground ginger
There are loads of great plant-based milk products out there.
Almond milk is one of the most popular, and it’s super easy to make too!
Cashew milk is super creamy. It can be a bit pricy though.
Coconut milk is another really creamy one. It tastes great but there are 230 calories per 100g, due to the high saturated fat content.
Flax milk is a bit thinner than other milk substitutes. It contains omega-3 though.
Hazelnut milk tastes great in coffee. It’s low calorie and a great source of B vitamins. Another expensive one though.
Hemp milk is another thinner one. It contains lots of calcium.
Macadamia milk contains omega-7, which is a rare fat. It helps against insulin resistance, high blood pressure, and obesity.
Oat milk is full of fiber, has 0 saturated fat, and contains 5 grams of protein per cup.
Rice milk is very light and watery. Good for those with soy/nut allergies.
Soy milk is probably the most commonly used milk substitute. It’s a decent creamy substitute for regular milk but stick to non-GMO.
Oils and Fats
There are lots of people who follow the whole food plant-based vegan diet which contains no processed oils.
We still use oil in our plant-based recipes, but only very small amounts.
Some oils have a low smoke point. This is the point where they start to produce toxic fumes and free-radicals. So you want to avoid those for frying.
Extra virgin olive oil has a smoke point of 160°C, so use this one for drizzling on salads.
Olive oil on the other hand is great for frying.
Coconut oil is another good oil to add to your grocery list for frying.
Avocado oil is packed full of vitamin E and lutein, which may reduce the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.
It’s great for frying and for drizzling but it’s on the expensive side. Definitely worth it if you have the extra $.
- Almond oil
- Avocado oil
- Canola oil
- Coconut oil
- Coconut butter
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Grapeseed oil
- Macadamia oil
- Olive oil
- Rice bran oil
- Sesame oil
- Agave syrup
- Coconut sugar
- Maple syrup
- Rice syrup
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Apple Sauce
- Baked Beans
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Curry Paste (check if it contains shrimp)
- Dark Soy Sauce
- Lemon Juice
- Liquid Aminos
- Miso Paste
- Rice Vinegar
- Soy Sauce
- Water Kefir
Here are ingredients that we didn’t know where else to put, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not important.
Actually fermented foods are full of health benefits. Particularly natto, which is one of the highest sources of vitamin K2.
- Nutritional Yeast
- Vegetable Broth
So that’s the end of the healthy plant foods that you should be eating in order to be a healthy vegan.
Now onto the junk foods. Adding a few of these to your grocery list occasionally won’t hurt, but try to avoid eating them regularly.
If you are currently transitioning to a plant-based diet then the fake meats can really help.
There are lots of fake meat products out there on the market so we’ve just listed a few of the newer ones.
Popular brands are Beyond Meat, MorningStar Farms, Gardein, Tofurky, Field Roast, Yves Veggie Cuisine, Trader Joe’s, Lightlife, Boca Burger, Sweet Earth Natural Foods, Simply Balanced.
- Beyond Meat Burger Patties
- Field Roast Vegan Sausages
- Upton’s Naturals Chili Lime Carnitas Jackfruit
- Tofurky Treehouse Tempeh Smoky Maple Bacon Marinated Strips
- Field Roast FRuffalo Wings
- Gardein Classic Meatless Meatballs
- Yves Veggie Pepperoni Slices
- Sweet Earth Foods Hickory & Sage Benevolent Bacon
You may be surprised to know that most breakfast cereals are full of sugar, even the “healthy” ones.
Here’s our list of not so healthy breakfast items:
- Pancake Mix
- Waffle Mix
- Corn Chips
- Potato Chips
- Candies (check that they don’t contain gelatin)
B12 This vitamin is not available from food sources in a vegan diet. It’s very important to supplement. A B12 deficiency can lead to depression, paranoia, delusions, memory loss, and more
DHA/EHA These omega-3 oils may help to lower blood pressure, reduce the likelihood of heart attack or stroke, and lower inflammation. Omnivores would supplement with fish oil, but vegans can supplement with algae oil (where the fish get theirs from).
Iodine is important for your thyroid health. If you incorporate seaweed into your diet then there is no need to supplement. It’s actually pretty easy. Just throw nori flakes into some of your meals.
Vitamin D3 Just 5-30 minutes of sun exposure between 10 am and 3 pm twice a week to the face, arms, legs, or back without sunscreen is enough to boost your vitamin D3 levels, according to the NIH. However, if you aren’t lucky enough to have sun all year round, it’s a good idea to supplement.
Physically, Mentally Plant-Based
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