I’ve been a vegetarian since the tender age of 9. I watched a TV special on Nickelodeon on children who are vegetarians and I instantly knew I wanted to do it too. Plus, I’ve always loved and appreciated animals! Now, years later as an adult, I’ve been slowly transitioning to a vegan lifestyle. I figure if I’m going to use my diet to protect the planet and the animals, I might as well go all in.
In order to help anyone else who is considering going vegan or transitioning to a more vegan-friendly lifestyle, I’ve put together a vegan grocery shopping list with some of my favorite vegan staples.
Vegan Condiments / Sauces
Liquid Aminos are a healthier, MSG-free alternative to soy sauce and it’s the perfect sauce for lunches and dinners. It goes well with pretty much any savory dish!
Nutritional Yeast is a great source of B vitamins and a tasty alternative to cheese. It looks sort of like shredded parmesan cheese and has a slightly cheesy flavor that’s great on rice, noodles, pasta, or even avocado toast.
I used to be really skeptical of mustard, but now I used it in sauces all of the time because it’s an easy way to add creaminess and flavor to any vegan meal. It serves as a great salad dressing, sandwich topping, and it’s even good smothered on noodles.
Sriracha / Hot Sauce
If you’re into spicy food, nothing’s better than smothering an already delicious meal in Sriracha. It gives your dish a nice kick and gets the metabolism going! Some people even carry it around in their purse when they go out to eat.
Luckily, mainstream grocery stores are starting to sell vegan cheese more and more frequently. Cheese was the main thing stopping me from being fully vegan before, but I find that there are plenty of tasty alternatives from excellent brands like Daiya, Tofutti, and Field Roast.
Hummus is great for salad dressings, sauces, condiments, or for dipping! It’s full of protein and extremely tasty.
Vegan Main Ingredients
I frequently use avocados as the main ingredient in my meals. I slice it up and throw it on rice, noodles, pasta, tacos, pizza, toast, or pretty much anything I can get my hands on. It’s full of healthy fat and fiber and it’s super filling. Plus, IT’S AMAZING!
Chickpeas / Lentils / Beans Of Your Choice
I often buy giant bags of dried beans and make them in batches so I can throw them on top of lunches and dinners. They’re a quick, healthy way to add protein to any meal and they taste great. My personal favorites are chickpeas and lentils but test many different kinds to see which you prefer the most.
Spinach / Kale
When I’m preparing lunch or dinner, I use spinach or kale as the base of my dish. They’re fresh, full of vitamins, and are great for the heart and the stomach. My husband started adding a couple handfuls of spinach to his meals a few years ago and he said his energy levels have completely changed and his stomach feels better than ever.
Oats / Granola
If you’re wondering what to have for breakfast, oatmeal and granola are a great place to start. Oats are filling and full of fiber. Make it even healthier and tastier by adding some kind of nut butter or fruit.
Rice / Noodles / Pasta
It’s important to have carbs in your diet to keep your energy levels high. Personally, I really enjoy Asian-style noodles or rice pasta because they’re lighter and don’t make you feel sluggish like wheat pasta does.
If you’re a big bread eater, it’s important to find a vegan alternative to the kind of bread you like so you don’t feel horrible cravings. PETA put up a comprehensive list of mainstream brands that sell vegan bread, so that’s a great place to start. I love bagels myself, so finding out that Thomas’ Bagels were vegan was very exciting for me.
Coconut Milk / Rice Milk / Hemp Milk / Soy Milk
When you’re baking, or having coffee, tea, or cereal, you’re going to need some kind of milk alternative. There are dozens to choose from, but my personal favorite is coconut milk because it’s high in vitamins, tastes sweet, and doesn’t have any soy in it (too much soy isn’t good for you).
Peanut Butter / Almond Butter
Nut butters are great for making sandwiches or toast, adding to oatmeal, or baking with. They’re quick, filling, and tasty! Try to avoid nut butters with loads of sugar and stick to ones with more natural ingredients, if possible.
Almonds / Pistachios / Nuts Of Your Choice
It’s also great to keep bags of nuts around for when you get hungry. They’re protein-packed and filling. I’ve found that I snack more frequently throughout the day as a vegan and almonds and pistachios are two of my favorite snacks to reach for.
Tortillas / Wraps
Wraps and tortillas are great for making quick lunches or dinners. Just load them up with veggies and sauces and you instantly have a great meal.
Tofu / Tempeh
Tofu and tempeh are great because they can be made to taste like practically anything! You can buy tofu and tempeh in their pure form and prepare it yourself with spices, or even bake it to enhance the flavors. If you’re feeling lazy, you can also reach for pre-prepared alternatives of tofu, like meat substitutes. Whether you’re looking for vegan bacon, chicken nuggets, or turkey, many grocery stores have it! Just make sure not to consume too much soy in your diet, because it contains a certain level of estrogen and sometimes GMOs.
Similar to my previous point, it’s great to have a veggie burger of choice for quick, easy meals. My personal favorite is the Vegetable Masala burger from Trader Joe’s. It’s full of veggies and amazing Indian spices, which is a great alternative to the soy-filled burgers.
Cashew / Coconut Ice Cream
Yes, you can have ice cream as a vegan! I’m a big fan of the So Delicious cashew ice cream range, that’s available in lots of mainstream grocery stores. It’s great when you’re craving a more decadent treat!
I thought I’d throw this in because many people are surprised to find out that Oreos are vegan! It’s made me appreciate them even more! Obviously, these aren’t an everyday staple, but if you’re at a vending machine or a gas station looking for a quick snack they’re a tasty vegan choice!
I hope this list helps you get started on a more vegan-friendly lifestyle and encourages you to try some new, healthy ingredients in your diet! That’s a big part of the fun in veganism, it pushes you to widen your horizons when it comes to fresh foods. So, go out there and try some new things!