This vegan grocery list is for beginner vegans learning navigate the grocery store aisles. Print it off and take it with you until you gain more confidence with your new lifestyle (I guarantee you will!)
- Vegan Grocery List For Beginners
- How To Use The Weekly Vegan Grocery List PDF
- What Does A Healthy Vegan Diet Look Like?
- Vegan Nutrition Basics - What Nutrients Do Vegans Need?
- Foods Vegans Can't Eat
- Hidden Animal Ingredients in Food
- Your Vegan Grocery List
- Fresh Herbs
- Nuts and Seeds
- Vegan Pantry Staples
- Vegan Proteins
- Plant Based Milks
- Dairy Substitutes
Vegan Grocery List For Beginners
When you first embark on a vegan diet the grocery store suddenly becomes a mysterious place. Your favorite foods are suddenly off limits. You spend a lot of time examining labels with an array of bewildering ingredients. Is it vegan? Is it not? It's all a bit overwhelming!
This list of vegan food will also be helpful for plant based aficionados trying to streamline their weekly shop. Or, for those who are shopping for vegan food on a budget.
How To Use The Weekly Vegan Grocery List PDF
Print off my vegan grocery list PDF, and choose a quiet day to make your weekly meal plan. Sunday is the day I plan my weekly vegan shopping, but your week might look different. Just be sure to set aside an hour to plan out the meals you want to make in the coming week. In the early days, this will help you get into a groove and stay focused on your new vegan lifestyle.
- Go through your pantry and tick off the items you already have. This is especially important if you're on a budget. Random grocery shopping is hard on your budget, so take a few minutes to inventory what you already have.
- Highlight the items you need to buy for your weekly meals.
- Add any items you know are vegan, but are not on the list.
What Does A Healthy Vegan Diet Look Like?
- As with any healthy diet plan, aim to eat 5 portions of fruit and veg a day. On a plant based diet, you should easily consume this every day without much planning.
- Be sure to include plenty of complex carbs like potatoes, bread, rice and pasta - wholegrain is the best choice. If you are planning on also being gluten free, omit bread and pasta.
- Make sure to cover your protein needs. High protein vegan foods include tofu, tempeh, beans and pulses.
- Choose unsaturated fats and oils and only eat them in moderation. Oils from vegetables, seeds and nuts, such as sunflower, safflower, rapeseed, olive, walnut and corn are all unsaturated. You can also include vegan butter spreads that use these oils. Try to limit saturated fats.
- Allow yourself some treats! Healthy choices might include dark chocolate, trail mix, fruit leather and granola bars.
Vegan Nutrition Basics - What Nutrients Do Vegans Need?
While a vegan diet has many health benefits, there are nutrients you need to be careful to plan into your new diet. The following is a list of nutrients to plan for, and foods that include these nutrients:
- Calcium: Tofu, calcium fortified breads, calcium fortified milks and yogurts, leafy greens, sesame seeds, tahini and pulses.
- Vitamin B12: Fortified foods such a vegan milks (soy, almond, coconut and rice), tempeh, fortified breakfast cereals, seaweed, nutritional yeast and mushrooms. Many vegans use a good Vitamin B12 supplement to ensure that they get the right amount of this important nutrient.
- Protein: Non dairy milk, tofu, vegan cheese or yogurt, buckwheat, nut butters, lentils, tempeh, nutritional yeast and most beans.
- Iron: Chia seeds, lentils, chickpeas, beans, tofu, ground linseed, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, kale, dried apricots, figs and raisins.
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Brussels sprouts, linseed, pumpkin, chia seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts, flaxseeds, vegan spreads and vegetable oil.
- Zinc: Cashews, walnuts, chickpeas, beans and pumpkin seeds.
- Selenium: Onions, tomatoes, broccoli, garlic and brown rice.
Foods Vegans Can't Eat
While this is a comprehensive list of food vegans can eat, there are foods that vegans (obviously) can't eat. Some of these foods and ingredients are more obvious than others. My printable pdf vegan grocery list also includes a list of not so obvious ingredients that you'll find on food labels.
- Meat And Meat By Products: Beef, lamb, pork and organs meats.
- Poultry: Chicken, Goose, Turkey, Duck, Quail.
- Fish/Shellfish/All Seafood: Fish, shrimp, calamari, squid, crab, mussels, squid, lobster and fish sauce.
- Eggs: Chicken eggs, duck eggs, turkey eggs, goose eggs, caviar, and ostrich eggs.
- Dairy: Milk, butter, cream, yogurt, cheese and ice cream.
- Bee Products: Honey, royal jelly, bee pollen etc.
Hidden Animal Ingredients in Food
It's important to check ingredients in foods carefully. Many food do contain hidden animal ingredients. This is a list of the most common animal derivatives to look out for.
- Albumen/Albumin: Derived from egg whites. Can sometimes be found in cakes and pastries.
- Animal Fats And Oils: Alternatives include olive oi, sunflower oil, avocado oil and coconut oil.
- Bee Pollen: Sometimes found in nutritional supplements.
- Bone Char: Sometimes used to make refined white sugar (commonly in the USA).
- Bone Meal: Can sometimes be found in supplements as a calcium source.
- Certain Food Additives: Some food additives are derived from animal sources. These can include E920-21 (cystein), E966 (lacitol), E1000 (cholic acid), E1105 (lysozym), E631, E901, E904.
- Gelatin: Comes from the connective tissue of cows and pigs. Gelatin is used as a thickening agent.
- Islinglass: Islinglass can be found in in some jellies and also in some alcoholic beverages.
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Most omega 3 fatty acids are derived from fish.
- Shellac (Resinous Glaze): Used in some candy glazes.
- Vitamin D3: Sometimes you find Vitamin D3 in fortified products such as cereals. It can be animal or plant derived.
- Dairy Products: Dairy products that may contain animal derivative ingredients come under a variety of names including casein, whey and lactose.
Your Vegan Grocery List
My vegan grocery list is broken down into the following categories:
- Vegetables - Fresh, canned and frozen.
- Fruit: Fresh, canned and frozen.
- Fresh Herbs
- Nuts and Seeds
- Pantry Staples
- Vegan Proteins
- Plant Based Milks
- Dairy Substitutes
- Grains and Grain Substitutes
- Ingredients That Are Non-Vegan
This is by no means an exhaustive list. This vegan grocery list is meant to be a staring point. It's not possible for me to list every single fruit and vegetable, but I've given you a comprehensive choice to get you off to a good start! You will find yourself customizing it as you get used to shopping for your new vegan diet.
Vegetables are the cornerstone of a vegan diet. As you progress through your journey, you'll find new and creative ways to use your favorite veggies in your meal plan.
Vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories and have no cholesterol. They're also nutrient dense, so a vegan diet is naturally healthy.
- Cruciferous Vegetables: Cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and broccoli.
- Leafy Greens: Spinach, lettuce, arugula, watercress and kale.
- Root Vegetables: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, parsnips and yams.
- Nightshade Vegetables: Eggplant, peppers, tomatoes and potatoes.
- Edible Plant Stem: Celery and asparagus.
- Allium: Onions, garlic, leeks and shallots.
- Fungi: All mushrooms.
- Gourds: Squash, pumpkin, cucumbers.
Did you know that frozen vegetables can be just as nutritious as fresh vegetables? Plus, they're great addition to your vegan grocery list if you're on a budget, and they're super convenient. Here's a few of my favorite frozen vegetables:
- Green Beans
- Cauliflower (including frozen cauliflower rice!)
- Mixed Veggies
Canned vegetables are shelf stable, so they make great additions to your pantry. And, just like frozen vegetables, they're typically much cheaper than fresh vegetables. Here's a few of my favorites that I keep in my pantry:
- Pureed pumpkin
- Green Beans
What's not to love about fruit? All fruits contain naturally occurring sugars, which leads many people to believe they should be avoided. However, the health benefits of consuming fruit on a regular basis far outweigh the sugar content.
Fruits are full of antioxidants, which protect your cells from free radical damage. They're full of nutrients, so include them in your vegan diet!
Research has shown that frozen fruit contains more antioxidants than fresh fruit. Fresh fruit is harvested and frozen within hours, and this tends to preserve the nutritional content . Fresh fruit declines in nutritional value as it reaches it's peak ripeness. So, avail yourself of all the benefits of eating frozen fruit!
- Smoothie Mixes
Canned fruits that are stored in their own juices (not syrup) are low in fat, calories and have no cholesterol. They also have a long shelf life and make great pantry staple items.
- Mandarin Oranges
- Tomatoes (diced and pureed)
Fresh herbs make everything taste so much better. Plus, they're full of nutrients. I think they're so essential to a delicious vegan meal plan that I've given them their own category. You can of course, substitute dried herbs for fresh, but the nutritional value won't be nearly as high.
Fresh herbs will stay fresh in the fridge for 2-3 days. If you're not going to use them all within that time, simply freeze them in a reusable freezer bag.
Legumes are a great source of protein for vegans. They are also high in the amino acid lysine, which is an essential amino acid that can be challenging for vegans to get enough of. Plus, they're high in zinc and iron, and they make fabulous meat substitutes. Here's a few of my favorites:
- Black Beans
- Fava Beans
- Great Northern Beans
- Kidney Beans
- Navy Beans
- Pint Beans
- Soy Beans
Legumes can be bought dried or canned. You can batch cook them and freeze them too.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are a great way to boost the nutritional content of your vegan meal plan. They're high in protein and packed with antioxidants. Sprinkle them over salads, soups and stir fries and enjoy the health benefits! Here's the nuts and seeds that I always add to my vegan grocery list:
- Chia Seeds
- Ground Flaxseeds
- Hemp Seeds
- Macadamia Nuts
- Pumpkin Seeds
- Nut Butters - Peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter
- Seed Butters - Tahini, pumpkin seed, sunflower seed
Vegan Pantry Staples
Staple items might include canned goods, dried goods, condiments, dressings and seasonings. Staple items can be found across all of the categories you find on the downloadable vegan grocery list PDF.
Stock your pantry with these staple items and you'll never find yourself without something delicious to eat:
- Agave Syrup: Great as a replacement for refined sugar in baking.
- Almond Butter: Useful for quick and healthy breakfasts. Spread some on toast, or use it to top a big bowl of oatmeal.
- Apple Cider Vinegar: Apple cider vinegar is a common ingredient in dairy free baking. In addition, you can use it for salad dressings.
- Cocoa Powder: Another baking staple. If you like to bake, be sure to get some!
- Coconut Milk: You'll find yourself using coconut milk in all kinds of vegan recipes from soups to muffins.
- Dried Fruits: A handy, healthy snack item to have on hand.
- Dried Pasta: It never goes off and makes a quick, satisfying midweek meal.
- Hot Sauce: If you like to turn up the heat, be sure to stock up on hot sauce!
- Olive Oil: An all around essential item.
- Maple Syrup: Maple syrup can be used to sweeten any dish. It's a healthier and more natural alternative to refined sugar.
- Miso: Miso can be used for so much more than soup. Add it stir fries, soups or salad dressings.
- Nutritional Yeast: Nutritional yeast is full of Vitamin B12, which can be challenging to get enough of in a vegan diet. It has a great umami flavor that is well suited to salad dressings. It's also an essential ingredient in most vegan cheese recipes.
- Pesto: Stir it into pasta, or mix it with a little olive oil for a healthy salad dressing.
- Rice: Rice makes a great base for almost any vegan dinner. Serve it with stews, stir frys, or even make yourself a rice salad.
- Risotto Rice: There's nothing more comforting than a cozy bowl of risotto.
- Tamari: Tamari is a bit like soy sauce, but it has a deeper and richer flavor. Plus, unlike soy sauce, it's gluten free.
- Sundried Tomatoes: I love sundried tomatoes in salads. They're a perfect item to keep on hand.
- Tahini: Tahini is a sesame paste. Use it to make hummus and yummy salad dressings.
- Vegan Mayonnaise: Great on sandwiches and in salad dressings.
- Vegetable Broth: You'll find this useful for making soups and stews.
There are many ways to get protein in a vegan diet. These include legumes, vegetables, nuts, seeds and some grains, but in this section I want to focus specifically on meat substitutes.
In your vegan grocery list, I have included numerous sources of protein across all the categories, so if you choose a broad range of items across all categories, your protein needs will be met. Here are my favorite meat substitutes:
- Tofu: Tofu is an excellent source of protein, and it contains all of the nine essential amino acids. Tofu is most commonly found in individual packages that require refrigeration. However, you can also find it dehydrated, canned, freeze dried and jarred. The great thing about tofu is that it it absorbs the flavors around it. So, if you like a spicy tofu, just add hot sauce - if you like sweet tofu, add a little maple syrup. You get the idea! Once you get used to cooking with tofu, I guarantee that you'll love the versatility of this awesome source of plant based protein.
- Tempeh: Tempeh is soy that has been fermented and packed into a brick-like form. Frequently tempeh will have grains and flavorings. It's the perfect addition to stir frys and makes wonderful vegan bacon. See my popular vegan BLT recipe for one creative idea on how to enjoy this protein packed vegan staple.
- Seitan: Seitan is often confused with tofu, but it couldn't be more different. While tofu is made from soy, seitan is made from wheat gluten. It has a texture and taste that is very similar to meat, and can be used as a meat replacement in almost any vegan dish. Do not eat seitan if your diet is gluten free.
- Mock Meats: The rise in popularity of faux meat can be attributed to two companies: Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods. There's a heavy focus on vegan friendly fast food. You can find everything from chicken nuggets to burgers, and they taste surprisingly like the real deal! So much so, that restaurants are increasingly offering mock meats on their menus.
Plant Based Milks
There are countless plant based milks available to choose from. Try a wide variety, and you'll soon find one that you have a preference for. Plant based milks are also the perfect substitute for cow's milk in baked goods. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Almond Milk
- Cashew Milk
- Coconut Milk
- Oat Milk
- Soy Milk
There are so many amazing dairy substitutes today, that there is no need to ever feel deprived on a vegan diet. Vegan cheese is just as tasty as it's omnivorous counterpart. Here's a few of my favorite vegan cheese and yogurts to add to your weekly vegan grocery list:
- Vegan Butter/ Margarine
- Vegan cheddar or mozzarella cheese shreds
- Vegan cream cheese
- Coconut Ice Cream
- Coconut Yogurt
- Soy Yogurt
There's a wide array of grains to choose from. Don't limit yourself to only the ones you're familiar with. Aim to try a new grain each week. You'll soon find a few that become regular favorites on your vegan meal plan. Here are a few suggestions:
- Basmati Rice
- Black Rice
- Bulgar Wheat
- Chickpea Flour
- Cous cous
- Pearl Barley