One of the first steps to any beginner vegan is transforming your kitchen into a healthy vegan paradise. And it all begins with at the grocery store with a vegan food list that will satisfy your new transition. It may seem daunting at first depending on your previous diet, but once you have the essentials and know what to look for, a healthy vegan diet is as easy as pie with this beginner vegan grocery list.
Produce- Fruits and Vegetables
You may be most familiar with fruits and veggies, so go all out in this section, but keep in mind the self-life of produce is short. Snacking on healthy, all-natural fruits is a great alternative to sweets, so look for what is in season to get the tastiest treats. Vegetables will be your main course in many of your meals, so pick your favorite and build meals around them. Here are a few that I commonly have on my vegan shopping list:
- Limes and lemons: great flavor enhances and provide vitamin C
- Strawberries: when in season. Make sure you buy organic as regular ones contain high levels of pesticides.
- Apples: in the fall, there are so many varieties that make for a sweet snack
- Bananas: easy, on-the-go snacking and great for a potassium energy boost
- Oranges or a smaller citrus like a clementine: also easy to bring for lunch and filled with vitamins
- Plums: Juicy and sweet when in season, plus they are high in antioxidants and many vitamins and minerals.
- Raspberry/Blueberry/Blackberry- all are delicious and great for your immune system
- Melons (watermelon, cantaloupe, etc.)- perfect for summer days to cool down
- Dried fruits (apricots, raisins, dates, mangos)- great for a snack and are condensed-vitamin packs
- Frozen fruits: are perfect for smoothies and for baking, plus they last long in the freezer
- Lettuce or other leafy greens like spinach or kale: high in iron and other essential vitamins
- Broccoli: provides high levels of calcium and protein
- Asparagus: they are delicious and a perfect side dish
- Peppers: a great add on to stir fry and other dishes
- Onion: almost every dish can include some diced onion
- Avocado: loaded with potassium and essential fatty acid, plus you can easily make your own guacamole
- Carrots: high in beta-carotene and a nice addition to soups, salads, or stir fry
- Cucumber: a great snack with some dip or add it to your salad for some a flavor enhancer
- Mushrooms: high in protein, fiber, and vitamin B, plus it has a meaty texture great for sandwiches and stir fry
Grains, Beans, and Legumes
Adding these in bulk to your vegan food list will help keep your pantry and your stomach full of fiber, low fat protein, and vitamins. Add vegetables to create complete easy vegan recipes.
- Whole grain or whole wheat breads: does not breakdown into sugar like white bread and does not contain bleached flour. It comes in all of your favorite forms like bagels, tortillas, sandwich slices, loafs, and buns.
- Whole wheat pasta: a healthy and quick meal
- Quinoa: a protein-rich superfood
- Seitan: you can buy it frozen or purchase wheat gluten to make it at home with your favorite flavors (seiten bacon using liquid smoke is my favorite)
- Brown rice: a healthy addition to any meal
Beans & Legumes
- Chickpeas: cook whole and add to a salad or smash to make your own delicious hummus
- Lentils: a heart-healthy and cholesterol-lowering versatile food
- Black Beans: a substitute to vegan tacos or dips
- Any white bean: also great for Mexican dishes or mashed to make sauces and dips
- Kidney beans: for vegan chili or burritos
- Soy beans: in whole, milk, tempeh, or tofu form, this product is a necessity for protein intake and a variety of dishes (even desserts!)
Nuts and Seeds
Every vegan grocery list should include an assortment of nuts and seeds to add iron, protein, and calcium to a vegan diet. Nuts are a healthy fat that your body needs for energy and muscle production. They can be a quick snack pick-me-up or used to make your own milk alternatives. Seeds can top your salads or cereals for added nutrients.
- Almonds: filled with copper, vitamin E, magnesium and many more minerals and vitamins to promote a healthy heart
- Cashews: is a low-fiber nut so it can be indulged without getting constipated. Plus, it is loaded with B6 vitamins, iron, copper, and zinc.
- Peanuts: in whole form or as peanut butter, this nut is full of protein for high energy
- Chia seeds: a super food that has omega-3 fatty acids and high levels of calcium and iron. Sprinkle it on anything, literally. It is even a perfect egg replacer when it sits in water for breading or baking.
- Flax seeds: also high in omega-3 fatty acids as well as lignans, a fiber that improves digestive health
- Pumpkin seeds: another super food that is high in magnesium, copper and protein, plus unique antioxidants found only in plants called phytosterols
You will be surprised by the amount of milk alternative choices found in the grocery store these days. They also come in a variety of flavors, sweeteners, and some even have added calcium. Try them all to see which one suits your taste. Cheese and yogurt are also plentiful and surprisingly delicious. They also come in several flavors, added sweeteners like fruit, and different base products.
- Almond: one of the more popular alternatives, it contains 50% of your vitamin E and promotes healthy skin
- Soy: the classic choice which contains the most amount of protein
- Flax: maintains sugar levels and cholesterol as well as helps maintain a healthy weight
- Hemp: filled with 10 amino acids, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids as well as calcium, vitamin D and B
- Coconut: has its own natural electrolytes, maintains healthy blood sugar, and relieves stomach problems. Use it for baking and cooking to make a healthy delicious dessert or meal.
Cheese, yogurt, butter, oil
- Almond/soy/coconut yogurt: each one will have a distinct flavor depending on the brand. Coconut seems to be creamier while almond and soy tend to thicken and congeal.
- Almond/cashew/soy: new cheese brands are being produced every day. They come on pizzas, in shredded form, slices, cream cheeses, and traditional blocks. Explore your options to find your favorite.
- Vegan Balance: this is my favorite vegan butter. You really cannot tell the difference and it holds up as far as consistency for baking and spreading on things like bagels.
- Sour cream: usually made from tofu, vegan sour cream is a miracle if you even think you will miss the real thing.
- Coconut oil/olive oil/sunflower oil/Sesame oil: your choice will depend on the flavor you need. There are flavorless coconut oils, which is the healthiest option, but sometimes you need the olive or sesame flavor added to certain dishes.
- Nutritional yeast: in flake or powder form, this yeast is a must for your own vegan recipes. You can add it to soups, home-made cheeses, and nearly anything that you want a cheesy flavor. It contains B12 which is one of the more difficult vitamins to get on a vegan diet, plus it has other limitless health benefits too.
Condiments and Baking Ingredients
You may already have a lot of your condiments needed for a vegan diet but look closely at the label to make sure they are vegan and that they are all natural. You want to limit preservatives, high-fructose corn syrup, and caramel coloring. Now is the time to throw out unhealthy items even if they might be considered vegan.
Instead of processed sugar that has no nutritional value try these natural and healthy alternatives:
- 100% natural maple syrup
- Coconut sugar
- All-natural fruit preserves
Seasoning is more important than ever when starting a vegan lifestyle. You may have these already, but make sure you have a variety to give spice to your new creations. You can also use fresh herbs when preparing a specific meal, but be aware that they do not keep long unless you have your own herb garden (which I highly recommend).
- Chili powder
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
Dressings and Sauces
Many salad dressings and sauces have eggs in them or are filled with preservatives. Look into replacing your fridge with natural vegan options. You can also buy simple ingredients to make your own concoctions.
- Italian dressing
- Balsamic vinegar
- Red wine vinegar
- Lemon dressing
- Vegan ranch dressing
- Vegan Caesar dressing
- Vegan mayonnaise (usually made from soy)
- All-natural ketchup
- Whole wheat flour
- Baking soda
- Baking powder
- Vegan chocolate chips
- Egg replacers (Chia or Flax seeds mixed with water or premade powder)
- Apple cider vinegar (for creating things like vegan buttermilk)
- Cocoa powder
- Coconut oil
- Vegan butter
This is a comprehensive vegan grocery list, so do not think that you need to buy everything at once. Keep it handy each time you go shopping and begin to cross items off the list. Also, you want to try a variety of brands and flavors. Don’t forget to visit the frozen food aisle for simple vegan options like frozen pizza, burgers, breakfast burritos, and pre-made, yet healthy vegan meals.