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Vegan Food List For Beginners

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What Should Be on a Vegan Food List For Beginners?

The perfect vegan food list for beginners will include:

  • Protein
  • Grains
  • Fruits
  • Nuts
  • Veggies
  • Vegan dairy products (if desired)
  • Vegan sweet treats

Building a stellar vegan food list for the grocery store is not hard. But it can seem a little unfamiliar if you’re just getting started with a vegan diet.

We’re here to dig into all of the creative food choices you can pile onto your shopping list. Some you might be familiar with, and some might be brand new! I encourage you to spread your creative wings as we think about trying new vegan foods.

Lets get started!

How Often Should I Shop as A Vegan?

Typically vegans need to shop 1-2 times per week.

The number one thing every new vegan needs to understand is that time seems to move a little faster in plant planet.  

Veggies perish fast. It takes a little practice in our routine to get used to this.

Produce should be the bulk of your meal.  A trip to the grocery usually occurs a bit more frequently for vegans (about 2x a week).  

  • Shop often
  • Choose mindfully
  • Have a plan for how you’re going to use foods that are new to you (such as a recipe planned out)
  • Divest from your standard shopping trail

The number one thing here is this: If you notice that you don’t get to your veggies go rotten in the fridge once or twice DON’T take that as a sign you should never buy them again.

Instead, learn from the experience. Explore exactly how and when you will use the veggies that go bad and how you will store them for the next time around.

Beginners Guide For Going Vegan

Be gracious with yourself! If you’ve got 40 years of mainstream dietary habits tucked under your belt, it’s pretty unlikely that we’re going to unravel them all in one shining veganuary!

Nutrition experts offer this advice-  “Ease into it. Set a deadline for yourself and try a new vegan recipe at least once a week to build up your repertoire until you have enough, trusted, uncomplicatedgo-to recipes”. Jean LaMantia, RD

New recipes rock! Especially as you build that vegan foundation.  You don’t have to go big or go home right away.  Some other weekly goal ideas that can help you ease into the vegan groove include:

  • Practicing proper storage of veggies and herbs to prevent food waste.  You can prolong the shelf life and taste by storing properly.
  • Learn to grow your own! Build an herb garden in your kitchen so you’re never left lacking.  And leave that damn packaged junk that always leaves you lacking where it belongs at the grocery for someone else!
  • Buy one new crazy plant or products at the grocery and USE IT each week.  This could be anything from cactus to amaranth.  Let’s unlock the gates of your tiny food jail and learn to explore!

Protein On Your Vegan Grocery List

Contrary to 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.” 

Choosing protein from plants does not need to be hard. Here are a few good vegan proteins for your grocery list:

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

It might surprise you to learn, that most American’s don’t have any problem getting protein into their diet! This includes vegetarians and vegans.   

Vegans typically get their protein by combining multiple plant products into one meal (for example beans and rice). Foods that must be combined to get in all the essential amino acids needed are called complimentary proteins. 

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, Chili Sin Carne, and scrambles just to name a few.

Grains For A Vegan Shopping List?

Here are some great vegan grains for your shopping list.

  • Amaranth
  • Buckwheat
  • Quinoa
  • Oats
  • Millet
  • Bread
  • Rice

 Many grains also contain a good amount of protein! This includes Quinoa which is actually a complete protein (meaning it contains all the essential amino acids our body needs in one spot!). 

Pack Your Vegan Shopping List With These Spices!

One of the main reasons I think I could never return to my former carnivorous lifestyle is the food is just so dang flavorless! 

Vegans know how to spice it up! I always say to my meat loving friends-make sure it tastes great vegan first, then add the meat! 

Get those spices in the pantry and learn to use them! 

One thing I also like to mention about spices is to ditch those STUPID VARIETY SHAPED pre packed spice bottles.  

Try choosing your spices In bulk. You don’t need a shaker top on them either! I use little mason jar style type container. A purchase in the box “spice rack” is also a pretty terrible way to get things done!

  • Mustard Seed-Lends a deep earthy flavor 
  • Coriander- subtle sweet and sour flavor. Often found in Ethiopian or Southeast asian cuisine.  Use whole seed or powder. 
  • Garlic Powder
  • Cumin-rich and earthy. Typically used in taco seasonings and chili powders.
  • Tumeric-Earthy, bitter spice. Popular in Indiana dishes such as curries and Dahl. 
  • Nutritional Yeast: Cheesy flavor. Great as seasoning, in soups or as a sauce. 
  • Rosemary-powerful sharp flavor. Used in soups, salads, casseroles. 
  • Sage- a powerfully flavored herb. Add to bean dishes, infuse honey with sage, or add to polenta. 
  • Thyme
  • Oregano

What Do Vegans Eat Instead of Eggs?

The most popular alternative for binding agents such as eggs and milk when preparing foods are foods like ground flaxseed and dairy alternatives such as almond, coconut milk, or soy milk.  

Vegans may also use finely ground chia seed or silken soy in place of eggs. Silken soy can be an excellent replacer in dessert products such as these scrumptious vegan brownies. 

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.

Which Cooking Oils Are Vegan?

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Light Olive oil
  • Coconut Oil
  • Peanut Oil
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Sesame Oil 
  • Walnut Oil
  • Almond Oil
  • Hemp seed oil
  • Grapeseed Oil
  • Avocado Oil

Below you will find a chart on how to use your vegan cooking oils.

Oils with the highest smoke points will withstand best under high heats.  Making sure you don’t go above an oils intended smoke point will help keep nutrients and flavor in check. 

Oils with lower smoke points are best used with cold dishes like salads. 

Infused oils are also an excellent easy way to add flavor to foods! 

Foods With B12 and Iron For Your Vegan Food List

Foods with iron and B12 are important for vegans and sometimes overlooked on the shopping list.  

While both iron and B12 can be found with the right combination of vegan foods or supplement, they do require a little extra attention.  

B12 is important for neurological function and red blood cell formation. Best sources of B12 for vegans include

  • Fortified cereals
  • Fortified nutritional yeast
  • Cremeni mushrooms 
  • Tempeh

Pack The Pantry

Every seasoned vegan knows all about a packed pantry.  Once we have our fresh produce lined up, next comes the dried and canned goods.  

Some excellent pantry staples include: 

  • Beans-dried and canned
  • Lentils
  • Quinoa
  • Spelt
  • Millet
  • Bulger
  • Nutritional Yeast
  • Tempeh
  • Nuts (cashews, almonds, pistachio’s, walnuts)
  • Seeds (pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, hemp seeds, flax seeds)
  • Dried Fruits
  • Tahini
  • Peanut & Almond Butter

Re-Use Your Vegan Groceries

Making your own veggie stock is economical, sustainable, and user friendly. Keep your veggies separate in the freezer based on flavor profile.  

Sweet Veggies For Stock: Parsnips, golden beets, corn cobs, pea pods, carrots, and previously cooked veggies. 

Savory Veggies for Stock: Onions, spinach, chard, leek tops, carrot tops.  

Combine veggies based on desired veggie stock flavor! Be careful for richly colored vegetables such as beets if this is a concern. Foods such as potatoes may change the consistency of your stock.  

Veggies should be chopped into 1″ chunks prior to freezing.  f

10-Minute Vegan Meals and Snacks

I always challenge my newly vegan clients to finding snacks they can prep that are “easier than a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.” Here’s my starter list:

  • Veggies & Hummus
  • Mixed nuts and dried fruit
  • Bean & Quinoa wrap with cashew sauce
  • Rice cakes with nut butter and seeds
  • Fruit smoothie
  • Chips and Salsa
  • Mixed greens with garbanzo beans, tahini, balsamic and oil
  • Overnight oats

With regular pre prepping, this “less work than a PB  & a list can quickly expand exponentially! Lazy is the best vegan way to be.

For a Full Weekly Vegan Meal Plan Check Out The Link Below

What Should Be On A Vegan Grocery List?

Protein, fruits, veggies, grains, nuts, vegan dairy products, sweet treats and faux meats if desired.

What Are Some Good Proteins For A Vegan Grocery List?

Beans, Lentils, Tofu, Textured Vegetable Protein, Nuts, Seeds, Nut Butters

What Is Used To Replace Egg On A Vegan Shopping List

Flaxseed (mixed with water), Silken tofu, Firm Tofu (crumbled for scrambled eggs) or Just Egg

What Are Some Vegan Pantry Staples?

vegan cooking oils, nutritional yeast, canned or dried beans, spelt, quinoa, millet, bulger, dried fruit and nut butters

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© 2022 Peace and Nutrition

Shena Jaramillo. Registered Dietitian

Hi I'm Shena. I'm an eating disorders dietitian in Washington state. I hold bachelors degrees nutrition & dietetics, cultural anthropology & psychology. I believe in honoring your hunger, having your cake whenever you want it, and that critically analyzing diet culture can change the world!

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