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As of 2013, 2.5% of the United States population identified themselves as vegans. There are tons of reasons people choose to be vegan, but one universal reason is simply — it’s a plant-based diet.

Plant-based diets are a good way to remedy some of the issues traditional Western diets can cause. Today, so many people are over-consuming red meat and added sugar, and of course, this can lead to a myriad of health issues.1

But, it’s not uncommon for first-time vegans to get overwhelmed.

And even if going completely vegan isn’t for you… there are good reasons to understand more about eating (and shopping for) a plant-based diet.

Maybe you’ve got vegan friends and want to relate to them… or you just want to eat less meat… or you’re planning a big dinner and you want to make food all your guests can eat.

Well, there’s one thing to understand about a plant-based diet — not only are you giving up meat, seafood, dairy, and eggs… but you’re passing over any animal byproducts, as well.

As a result, putting together a vegan shopping list before heading to the grocery store can be difficult for some. If this sounds like you, let’s help you make your vegan shopping list great so you can stick to your diet and discover the long-term benefits of a vegan lifestyle.


Why Plan Your Meals?

Easy. Studies show that meal planning may have a positive impact on heart health, weight, and overall diet quality.2,3

How can this be?

Well, think of it this way: Say you’ve had a busy day at work, you’ve got to run errands afterward, there’s traffic, you’re rushing only to wait and you end up frustrated over the whole dang experience. That frustration, coupled with the fact you’ve suddenly got no time to eat, might cause you to need some ready-made option. Well, ready-made is usually not the healthiest choice.

But, simple meal planning and prep can help you in this area. And by thinking ahead with your meals when you go to the grocery store, you can cover almost any scenario. In addition, prepping fruits and vegetables ahead of time means you always have the healthiest snacks on hand.


What to Put on Your Vegan Shopping List

As a vegan, you may not realize how many food options you have. This vegan shopping list covers some essential, everyday vegan needs. Being a healthy vegan is about finding balance. So, be sure to enjoy several foods from every category!


1. Fresh Fruit

Apples           Apricots           Bananas            Blackberries           Blueberries           Cantaloupe

Cherries        Clementines    Coconut             Cucumber              Currants                Durian

Figs                Grapefruit        Grapes               Guava                     Honeydew            Jackfruit

Kiwis              Kumquats        Lemons             Limes                     Lychees                Mangosteen

Mangoes       Nectarines       Oranges            Papayas                 Passionfruit          Peaches

Persimmon   Physalis            Plums               Pomegranate        Raspberries          Strawberries



What Do These Do For Me?

When it comes to fruit, the berry family is one of the healthiest options. These little guys pack a powerful punch. Why? Berries are full of antioxidants and they do a lot to help lower free radical damage to your cells.4 In addition, they’re packed with other nutrients.

For example, just one cup of blackberries has:

  • Calories: 62.
  • Vitamin C: 50% of the recommended daily intake
  • Manganese: 47% of the recommended daily intake
  • Vitamin K: 36% of the recommended daily intake
  • Copper: 12% of the recommended daily intake
  • Folate: 9% of the recommended daily intake

On top of this, berries are super low in calories and still have plenty of fiber.5 It’s a great combination if you’re looking to lose weight.


2. Dried Fruit

Apples           Apricots           Cranberries           Dates           Figs           Goji Berries

Mulberries     Prunes             Raisins


What Do These Do For Me?

Dried fruit is a great alternative to snacks with plenty of added sugars or salt. However, buyer beware: Some brands do add sugar despite the fact that fruit has enough of its own. And, because dried fruit is smaller you may eat more calories than with regular fruit before actually feeling full.6


3. Vegetables

Broccoli          Carrots          Celery          Cauliflower          Cucumbers         Snap peas

Tomatoes       Avocado       Zucchini      Mushrooms         Squashes            Bell peppers

Asparagus      Garlic


What Do These Do For Me?

As the foundation of a plant-based diet, vegetables have almost too many nutrients to name. In general, they’re rich in potassium, dietary fiber, folic acid, vitamin A, and vitamin C. In addition, they are inherently low in fat and calories.7

Now, if you’re new to the whole vegan thing, you may find yourself less satisfied with your plant-based meals… at first. That’s perfectly normal. After all, most vegetables have fewer calories on average. Try to focus on foods with fiber to help with satiety as you adjust.


4. Leafy Green Veggies

Arugula              Baby Spinach              Bok Choy              Chard             Spring Greens

Kale                    Lamb’s Lettuce           Lettuce                  Sorrel             Romaine Lettuce

Endive                 Mixed Salad               Spinach                 Watercress    Turnip Tops



What Do These Do For Me?

Leafy green vegetables are among the most nutrient-packed foods on the planet. Many leafy green vegetables have high levels of Copper, manganese, iron, and zinc.8 But leafy greens often contain good amounts of calcium. Sure, calcium supports strong bones. But you don’t need to drink milk to get your fill.9


5. Grains/Starches

Amaranth               Barley                  Brown Rice              Buckwheat              Bulgur

Corn                        Cornflakes          Einkorn                     Farro                        Kamut

Millet                       Quinoa                 Oats                          Rye                          Spelt

Wild Rice


What Do These Do For Me?

Ancient grains are becoming popular due to the rise of gluten-free diets. But, they do have other nutritional merits.

Take quinoa: Studies show that quinoa’s fiber content eclipses that of other grains by a wide margin. This can support glucose regulation, weight loss, and healthy cholesterol levels.10,11,12

Rice, too, is a great, inexpensive way to make meals more filling, but it can be heavy in carbohydrates. In addition, white rice is a refined grain. So if you want to play it safe, eat brown or wild rice instead. These are whole grains — closer to the ancient grains your ancestors survived on for centuries.13


6. Beans/Legumes

Chickpeas (canned/dry)               Black beans (canned/dry)                Kidney beans

Lentils (dry)                                     Hummus                                             Edamame (frozen)

Veggie burgers (lentil, bean, or vegetable based)


What Do These Do For Me?

As a vegan, you know it can be a challenge to figure out how to get your protein without eating meat. However, the legume family provides an affordable and versatile way to get all the protein you need.

In general, you want to eat varied proteins for maximum health. This means eating legumes along with certain grains and vegetables. However, don’t fall for the myths that vegans can’t meet their protein needs.


7. Nuts/Seeds

Peanut butter                 Almond butter                  Almonds                  Cashews

Pecans                            Sunflower seeds              Chia seeds              Sunflower seed butter

Pumpkin seeds              Walnuts                             Flax seeds               Sesame seeds

Tahini (sesame butter)


What Do These Do For Me?

Another category vegans want to be mindful of is healthy fats. The body cannot produce these, so they need to be consumed through your diet. Healthy fats support eye, brain, and immune health. Certain foods, like avocados or olives, have healthy fats. However, seeds and nuts are some of your best options to fill this food category. In addition, they have plenty of other nutrients.



8. Herbs

Anise                Basil                  Bay Leaf                Celery Seed               Chamomile               Chili powder

Chives              Cilantro             Clove                      Coriander                  Cumin                        Curry

Dill                    Garlic                 Ginger                     Italian Season         Lemongrass             Marjoram

Nutmeg            Onion                Oregano                  Paprika                     Parsley                     Red Pepper

Peppermint      PoppySeed      Pepper                    Rosemary                 Saffron                     Salt

Spearmint        Thyme               Turmeric                Yeast (Nutritional)


What Do These Do For Me?

Herbs and spices allow you to add extra flavor to your food without extra salt or sugar. And while herbal medicine has been practiced for centuries, cooking with medicinal herbs isn’t quite the same as taking herbal supplements. But, some of the beneficial health properties can transfer over.


9. Dairy Alternatives

Almond Milk              Almond Yogurt              Coconut Milk              Coconut Yogurt

Cashew Milk              Flax Milk                         Hemp Milk                  Oat Milk

Rice Milk


What Do These Do For Me?

It’s important to note that dairy substitutes mirror textures of milk in terms of cooking and texture. Nutritionally, it’s a bit more of a mixed bag. For example, almond milk is a rich source of vitamins D, E, and A. However, it doesn’t give you the same amount of calcium milk would. So, these dairy alternatives are vegan essentials, keep a close eye on their nutrition labels.14



The Vegan Shopping List In Review

Finally, adopting a plant-based diet is easier now than it has never been. Of course, growing interest means there’s more accessibility to plant foods.

There’s also a growing community of vegans online so you’ll find more recipes, tips, and info to help you put your diet together.

Therefore, companies are taking notice which means new and exciting products to help vegans replicate different flavors and textures.

So, in order to make sure you get all the nutrients you need, remember to keep your vegan diet balanced. The vegan shopping list above is a perfect starting point, but everyone’s different. In any event, don’t just run off to the grocery store.

Feel free to check with your doctor or nutritionist to see if you have any deficiencies to consider. They can help guide you to focus on certain foods, as well as dietary supplements.


Learn More About Vegan Diets:
How to Build Muscle on A Vegan Diet (it’s easier than you think)
7 Popular Vegan Diet Myths Debunked
Aquafaba: The Sci-Fi Vegan Egg Substitute To Check Out Now


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