More people than ever are choosing to switch to a vegan or plant-based diet, and we all have our own reasons. Our motivations may keep us going but most of us also need some practical help when we start out. We may even wonder what we will eat. But the truth is, you are already eating a lot of vegan food, and there is so much more for you to discover.
Vegan Shopping List
To make things super-simple, here is our regular shopping list, so you can see what we buy, and what we can do with those items.
Store Cupboard Staples
Take a look inside your cupboards, and you’ll find that a lot of the basics you always have are already vegan. We’re talking about tinned tomatoes, bread, pasta, rice, peanut butter, jam, yeast extract, coffee, and tea for starters. But whatever your store cupboard essentials are, the chances are they are already vegan or you can pick up a brand that contains no animal ingredients quite easily.
Tinned Fruit & Veg
Tins of fruit and / or vegetables are fantastic standbys. Tinned tomatoes are the base for many savoury dishes so you can always knock up a chilli or a pasta sauce. And keeping a tin of fruit means you can easily rustle up a crumble for dessert.
We’re partial to an overflowing fruit bowl. Apples, pears, and bananas are healthy snacks, and you can add mangos and berries to smoothies. Any fruit goes well with porridge or breakfast cereal, while lemons and limes add a zing to savoury or sweet dishes, like salads, Thai curries, or grain-based dishes.
Of course, we eat vegetables, and lots of them! They range from the dense and satisfying root vegetables like parsnip, potatoes, celeriac, and beetroot to the fresh and vibrant salad vegetables like tomatoes, cucumber, red peppers, and avocados. (Yes, we know that technically some of those are fruits.) And of course, we never miss an opportunity to add sweet green peas and nutrient-packed broccoli to our meals. Try veggies that are new to you. Try them all!
Green Leafy Vegetables
Don’t forget to add green leafy vegetables to your shopping list. They are full of vitamins, minerals, and fibre. They include cabbage, lettuce, watercress, kale, lamb’s lettuce, spinach, pak choi and much more.
These are superfoods and can be added to sweet and savoury dishes, sprinkled onto breakfast cereals or eaten as a snack. They’re full of healthy fats and protein, so choose from the wealth of them – Brazils, walnuts, and cashews are among our own favourites.
Nuts and seeds often go hand-in-hand as both are highly nutritious in small portions. Seeds can be added to baked goods, sprinkled onto salads, dips, and soups, or added to porridge. Think about sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and flaxseeds. Ground flax and chia seeds can also be used to replace eggs in baking making them a great store cupboard ingredient.
Beans & Legumes
You’ll definitely want to add beans and legumes to your shopping list. They can be bought tinned or dried, and sometimes in pouches. Lentils make delicious dal, and can be added to curries, stews, and soups to thicken and flavour them. Beans can be added to stews, curries, pies and pasties, and to salads as well. They can be mashed with vegan mayo and herbs to make a tasty sandwich filling. In short, they are highly versatile, and a great source of fibre and protein. They’re cheap, too.
As well as choosing from the range of plant milks (oat, soya, cashew, coconut, rice, almond, hemp and so on), take a look at the vegan yoghurts, cheeses, cream, and ice cream in your local store. You may be surprised by how much choice there is.
We’ve already covered beans, nuts, seeds, and dairy alternatives, which can all contain a lot of protein, but we’re thinking about the centrepiece to a meal that is traditionally made from animals. There is a wide range of protein-rich meaty products that are fully vegan, such as sausages and burgers, pies and wellingtons, and VFC’s delicious range of vegan fried chick*n products – Tenders, Fillets, Popcorn Chick*n, and Stompers.
Whole grain rice and pasta are very useful and tasty ingredients to keep at home, but there are many more whole grains to try. See if you can find quinoa, wild rice, amaranth, bulgur wheat, buckwheat, and millet. They can work in the place of rice, and make delicious grain-based salads, or can be used in stews or vegan meatballs.
If you’re cooking at home, you’ll probably need some cooking oils. Olive oil, sunflower oil, and coconut oil are our go-to oils but most cooking oils are vegan, so choose the ones you know and like best.
Spices & Seasonings
Spices are full of nutrients and pack a flavour punch. A full-to-bursting spice rack is a wondrous thing but if you are just starting out, we’d recommend you start off with curry powder, ground cumin, chilli powder, and ground turmeric. You can always add more to your repertoire later.
You can buy herbs fresh or dried. Fresh coriander is particularly good with curries, fresh dill in risottos, dried rosemary when roasting potatoes, and fresh basil for tomato-based dishes.
Sometimes, it’s the sauce that makes the dish. Tomato ketchup and brown sauce are vegan. You’ll also find plenty of barbecue, hot pepper, and other sauces and dressings that are also vegan. Add in a vegan mayonnaise, and choose vegetable gravy granules. You may need to read the ingredients or look out for bottles that shout about their vegan credentials.
What Everyday Products Are Vegan?
So many everyday products are vegan! Bread, muffins, bagels, breakfast cereals, tea and coffee, nut butters, jam, marmalade, and yeast extract are all (usually) vegan and start our day off right. Dried pasta, rice, and other grains are vegan, too. Fruit juices, vegetable gravy granules and stock cubes, tinned tomatoes, fruits, and vegetables. Lots of sauces are vegan. Hummus is usually vegan. Lots of cookies, crackers and biscuits are vegan, too. In fact, you may be surprised by how many everyday items in your kitchen right now are 100% vegan.
What Products Do Vegans Want?
I guess vegans generally want the kinds of foods they were brought up eating, and that varies for all of us. But almost everything we could want is now available in a vegan version – whether that is vegan croissant and cinnamon rolls, vegan fried chick*n, meringues and cakes, cheesy pizzas or meaty burgers. They are all available, and mean we don’t have to miss out on a single thing.
When we become vegan, we can feel overwhelmed by the changes we think we need to make to our shopping, cooking, and eating. The truth is, we often need to change very little, and your shopping list might not change all that much. It might read: cheese, bread, milk, cereal, salad, fish fingers, fried chicken, chips, peas, broccoli, cupcakes, ice cream, apples, bananas.
And it can still say exactly the same thing … because all those foods can be found fully vegan in most UK supermarkets. We get the foods we crave, and the animals get to keep their lives. Win-win.