So you’ve decided to go vegan but aren’t sure where to start? Don’t worry! This article has everything you need to know about the vegan lifestyle, including a comprehensive vegan grocery list for beginners.
First things first, though — why is eating the right foods important? Well, it goes without saying that proper nutrition is tied to your overall health, and that’s especially true for vegetarians and vegans. Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t have a healthy lifestyle if you don’t eat animal products.
There has been a lot of debate on the subject, with some swearing by veganism and others insisting that you can’t survive without meat or dairy. Things are rarely black and white, however — all diets have their pros and cons, regardless of whether they include animal products or not.
At the end of the day, as long as you’re getting all the nutrients your body needs to function properly, all diet plans are viable. The source of those nutrients doesn’t matter, but it’s essential that you get your micros and macros right.
But before you start worrying about what goes into your body, you need to consider what goes into your shopping cart. So, without further ado, here’s a comprehensive vegan grocery list for beginners. It aims to cover all essential sources of nutrients such as omega-3s, B vitamins, iron, and others that vegans commonly lack.
The Ultimate Vegan Grocery List for Beginners
Veggies might seem like the most obvious choice, and for good reason. They’re an essential part of every diet, vegan or not. And as your primary source of carbs, they’re going to make up the bulk of your meals. Luckily, there’s plenty to choose from, so you’re unlikely to ever get bored.
The key thing with veggies (and most other food groups) is to make sure you pick the right ones to get all the nutrients you need. For example, carrots are rich in vitamin A but lack calcium. So, you can supplement them with some leafy greens, like spinach.
Speaking of leafy greens, they’re also a great source of iron — something many vegans and vegetarians don’t get enough of. That’s why it’s a great idea to always include spinach, kale, watercress, etc. in your grocery list.
Just like vegetables, fruits are essential for vegans and non-vegans alike. They are a great source of carbs, as they’re chock-full of healthy sugars. Of course, they’re also packed with vitamins and minerals. Bananas, for example, are rich in potassium, and everyone knows oranges and other types of citrus are the go-to sources of vitamin C.
The great thing about fruits is that you can eat them whole, throw them in the blender and make a smoothie, or simply juice them. Whatever your preferred method of consumption might be, make sure you mix and match so that you get all the nutrients you need.
Legumes are a smaller but just as essential food group, and no vegan grocery list for beginners would be complete without them. Since you won’t be eating any meat or dairy, you’ll need an alternative source of protein. This is where legumes come in.
Foods like beans, peas, and lentils are all fantastic sources of protein and fiber, even more so if they’re fermented.
#4. Fermented Foods
In addition to legumes, all kinds of fermented foods are a valuable addition to any vegan diet. They’re rich in protein, as well as vitamin K2 and probiotics. Some such foods are miso, kimchi, kombucha, tofu, tempeh, natto, etc.
You might have a hard time finding some of these depending on where you live, but you can always DIY. Kimchi, for example, is pretty easy to make at home. Or, if even that seems like too much work, you can always make some pickles and call it a day.
#5. Seeds and Nuts
Another type of nutrients vegans commonly lack are fatty acids. Luckily, meat, fish, and dairy aren’t the only ways you can get those omega-3s. Nuts like almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, etc., are all packed with fatty acids and protein. Just make sure you go for the unsalted and unroasted varieties, as any kind of processing will diminish their nutritional value.
In addition, seeds like flax, hemp, and chia also have a pretty high protein and fatty acids content.
#6. (Plant) Milk
Just because you don’t eat dairy doesn’t mean you can’t drink milk. Nowadays, there are plenty of vegan milk products on the market, so take your pick. Most of them are even fortified with calcium, which vegans notoriously lack.
You can also make your own vegan milk at home — almond milk, for example, is easy to prepare and delicious. Do keep in mind, however, that some types of nut milk can be highly allergenic, so if you have any concerns, it’s always best to consult with your doctor first.
Then there’s vegan yogurt, which is a great source of probiotics and calcium. It’s also the perfect addition to any vegan breakfast bowl.
#7. (Vegan) Chocolate
If the only thing that’s stopping you from going vegan is chocolate, I have some good news for you! There is, in fact, 100% vegan chocolate, and it’s pretty good. And while chocolate is by no means an essential part of every vegan diet, I believe it does have a place on this vegan grocery list for beginners.
Going vegan can be a tough choice — after all, you’ll likely need to drastically alter your diet, and that’s not an easy thing to do. However, if you’re truly motivated, you shouldn’t let that stop you. Nowadays, there’s a vegan alternative to virtually any product on the market — even meat, which certainly makes things easier.
Of course, you’ll still have to plan your meals more carefully and make sure you’re getting all the essential nutrients. But that’s what this vegan grocery list for beginners is here for! You’ve already taken the first step, now all that’s left to do is to go shopping and cook your first vegan meal.