Plant Based Diet Grocery List and Shopping Guide
plant based diet grocery list for cruelty free shopping

Plant Based Diet Grocery List and Shopping Guide

What Should Be on a Vegan Grocery List?

The short answer to this is: Food! Similar to what should be on  everyone else’s list (HA! how many of us are avid grocery list shoppers? In a perfect world right!)  

Honestly, most of the trouble with a grocery list, vegan and carnivorous alike, is not what goes on the list. It’s the unplanned goodies that sneak into the cart full of fabulous promises, but laden with ill intentions. For example- the hyped up gluten free, face free full pseudo “Oreo” that screams “wellness” on its label.  Buying 10 packages of a cookie kind of like an oreo won’t make you more vegan. Or healthier. But it’s typically what happens when we peruse without purpose down the aisles. .  

 

Plant Based Grocery List Don'ts.

 Instead of starting with what should be on a plant based diet grocery list, i’d instead like to start with what should not! Here’s a quick reference list of all the things that best belong remaining on the grocery store shelf instead of your cart: 

  • Every convenience item that promises “meat free” including cookies, candies, soda, and nothin’ but microwave madness. 
  • A cart full of boxes and bagged goods such as chips & crackers
  • Stuff you wont eat but buy just because it says “vegan.”
  • Dairy free milk alternatives you think taste like crap but throw in your cart because you secretly think to yourself “there’s no going vegan without a little pain.”
  • A bunch of manufactured cheese substitute products.  Because both grain and pseudo “cheese” is vegan. So if you’re destined for  “vegan pizza again” until death do you part so be it. 

I'm confused. Just Tell me what should be on a damn plant based grocery list!

You ready for this? PLANTS! Big plants little plans, fresh plants, frozen plants, dried plants… You get it.  If you can’t tell by now I enjoy dwelling in sarcastic bliss.  All jokes aside, some of the products listed above are actually pretty great!  But the reality of it is most of them are not necessary to have a healthy vegan lifestyle. Whole foods, plant based will be our mantra today. And just so you know- people have been  living healthy, full fledged vegan lifestyles long before the evolution of Diya cheese. 

 
Hands holding plant based protein
Plant based proteins are a cornerstone in a vegan diet.
produce section of the grocery store. When following a plant based diet grocery list begin in the produce section.
Begin in the produce section when following a vegan shopping list.

Step By Step Vegan Shopping Guide

  • Start in the produce section.  Begin to build your meals around your produce. 
  • Shop the bulk section. This will save you a lot of money and introduce you to new vegan grocery itmes. 
  • Stock up on spices. The cornerstone of vegan cuisine is a flavor packed dish!
  • Grab your grains
  • Peruse the frozen section. Frozen fruits and veggies are friends.
  • Choose canned beans, tomato sauces, and produce produce. 
  • Peruse the faux meats and dairy alternative space. 
Oil being poured onto broccoli a plant based protein
Soda on a grocery store shelf
Soda is vegan, and is a great example of what should NOT go on a vegan grocery list.

Making Protein Choices in Plant Based Diet Grocery List:

Contrary to modern popular belief, the best protein we can get for our bodies does not come in the form of “The absolute largest quantity of  protein we can get in a single product ever.” It might surprise you to learn, that most american’s are actually over consuming protein! Excess protein typically just leads to added fat if it is not utilized.  

Don’t take it lightly when I say, vegan protein rocks! Plant based proteins are typically lower in calories, lower in saturated fats, and lower in trans fats when compared to our meat-based competitors.  Vegan proteins are also the only ones that are also going to contain some fiber. 

Vegans typically get their protein by combining multiple plant products into one meal (for example beans and rice).  However, some plant based proteins do contain all the amino acids we need in a single food.  No one protein food is better than another, it is instead about our composition of meals combined for the day. 

Easy Plant Based Protein Go To Items:

We can easily get the amount of protein we need in a day (on average about 60-80 grams) from plants.  Choosing protein from plants does not need to be hard. Here’s a few great products to choose: 

  • soybeans, soy products, or tofu
  • explore amaranth, quinoa, or buckwheat
  • hemp or chea seeds are a win
  • choose beans or lentils 
  • include almonds or other types of nuts

There are so many varieties to choose from in so many of these vegan products as well. For example, beans come in all sizes, shapes and flavors and can be utilized in so many dishes including burgers, plant based chili, and scrambles just to name a few.

Where do Faux Meats Fit Into a Vegan Shopping List?

While I poke some fun at convenience items at the beginning of this blog, items like textured vegetable, protein, microwave hot dog alternatives, and meatless crumbles can actually be an excellent way to get in some really quick high quality protein. These are a good example of faux meats. These products are becoming increasingly popular as more individuals make the transition to a vegan lifestyle (1). 

My main point above is that most of our vegan choices should be coming from whole foods. However faux meats can make an easy tasty addition to meals on occasion. I would encourage you to read labels prior to selecting your faux meat as many can be very high in sodium or sugars.  

Protein-In Fruit?

YES! you heard that right.  There’s even protein in fruit! guavas, kiwi, avocado, and apricots are just a few that make the list of protein bearing fruit! You can find more protein from fruit here

Fruits and veggies are ALWAYS a staple on the plant based diet grocery list.  I will not list them all here as they are pretty much free range. One thing I would encourage is choosing one new fruit or veggie that may be a mystery to you and learning to cook with it each week. Cactus anyone?  Make Your veggies go further by following proper storage recommendations for fresh produce. 

Another vegan trend that is becoming increasingly popular is jackfruit. Jackfruit is often utilized as a meat substitute, though it is in fact a fruit! While jackfruit does contain some protein, it is slim in comparison to products such as soy. 

Can You Eat Pasta on a Plant Based Diet?

The question here is really-It depends.  Most of the time the answer is yes, A plant based diet fits pasta on the grocery list! Some variety of pasta’s are made with egg or milk, so just be sure to check the ingredients list on the labels to ensure you are faithfully face free in your choosing! 

Pasta comes in all different shapes, sizes, and varieties these days! If you cannot find a traditional pasta that fits your fab vegan lifestyle, you may choose a cauliflower or black bean pasta. Yes! these exist! and it’s proof we indeed live in the 21st century. 

How do I work grain choices into my plant based diet grocery list?

Take your pick! there’s quite a few of them. The best part is no grain ever evolved from something with wings, legs, or fins.  Amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa, oats, millet, bread and rice are just a few of the great grains we can enjoy on a plant based diet. Many grains also contain a good amount of protein!

Make sure the grains you are choosing on your plant-based shopping adventures are whole grains.   Choosing whole grain products is demonstrated to keep healthy cholesterol levels in the body as well as promote good digestion (2).

 

Pasta with pesto and veggies on a white plate
chia on yellow table with green plant
Chia seeds can act as egg substitute.

What will I do without eggs & Cheese on my vegan grocery list and in my fridge!

Never fear, where there is a will there is a way! The most popular alternative for binding agents such as eggs and milk when preparing foods are things like ground flaxseed and dairy alternatives such as almond or soy milk.  Vegans may also use finely ground chia seed or silken soy in place of egg products. 

It’s actually truly amazing the near exact replicas you can make of your favorite recipe’s without using products like eggs and and milk.  Egg replacement in recipes has become increasingly common with not only vegans, but also for those with egg allergies.

 

What Can't I Eat on a Plant Based Diet?

Thanks to the collective creativity of many pioneering vegans past, we can now make nearly any american cuisine plant based. The exception might be things like a stand alone piece of steak or chicken (although interestingly enough even that’s debatable).

Most who make the vegan transition become artists in mere months, and realize the true flavor potential in their meal choices! For my carnivorous and vegan clients alike, I encourage you to utilize a plant based grocery list as the backbone of your shopping trip. I provide it to every patient. 

All of us can use a little more adventure and a few more plants in our lives.  It’s also much easier to add meat to a meal or a grocery list than take it away, and thus a plant based list creates a healthy core foundation. 

What are some ways you add plants to your shopping cart? Are there ways you get creative with plants in your meals not listed above? Would love to hear!

Fresh produce held up by fingers
Fresh or frozen produce should be on your plant based diet grocery list

References

1. The Power of Plant-Based Proteins. (2018). Tufts University Health & Nutrition Letter36(7), 4–5. Retrieved from https://search-ebscohost-com.ezp.lib.cwu.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=131876097&site=ehost-live

2. Hui, S., Liu, K., Lang, H., Liu, Y., Wang, X., Zhu, X., … Mi, M. (2019). Comparative effects of different whole grains and brans on blood lipid: a network meta-analysis. European Journal of Nutrition58(7), 2779–2787. https://doi-org.ezp.lib.cwu.edu/10.1007/s00394-018-1827-6

©2019 Shenajaramillord.peaceandnutrition

Shena Jaramillo. Registered Dietitian
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Shena Jaramillo. Registered Dietitian

Hi I'm Shena. I believe in choosing plants first, honoring your hunger, and that a little humor goes a long way.

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