Just getting started with veganism? Then shopping can be a nightmare. Even those simple vegan meal plans will probably call for ingredients which you’ve never even heard of, cooked, or had in your pantry. To make the process of going vegan easier, you will want to stock up on some vegan pantry essentials. There are already a lot of vegan shopping lists out there but I’ve found that most of them are really impractical. They are either really long and detailed (do newbie vegans really need agar-agar and 5 types of seaweed on hand?) or the vegan shopping lists are like the one which PeTA has are full of vegan junk food.
I’ve compiled a practical vegan shopping list. By practical, I mean that you 1) won’t have to spend a fortune stocking your pantry, 2) you will be able to make just about any basic vegan recipe so long as you have these foods on hand.
How to Use this Vegan Shopping List
1) Vegan Food Categories:
As someone who lives in a really tiny apartment and is perpetually broke, I understand that you aren’t always (or ever!) going to have all of these vegan ingredients at home. Instead, I’ve broken up the foods by categories: proteins, carbs, greens, vegetables, fruits, and fats.
If you have two items from each category, you can throw together a complete balanced vegan meal.
- Proteins: For your amino acids
- Carbs: For energy, iron, and protein
- Vegetables: For vitamins and minerals
- Fruits: For fiber and antioxidants
- Greens: For iron, calcium, and minerals
- Fats: For Omega 3 and DHA (more on Omega 3 and DHA here)
Ideally, your meals should include one ingredient from each category. This way, you ensure you are getting all of the necessary nutrients your body needs. The category method also makes finding substitutions for vegan recipes easy. For example, if you don’t have beans for your burrito recipe, you could substitute another protein like seitan in its place.
***A lot of newbie vegans make the mistake of stocking up on grains and carbs but forgetting the other categories. Then end up just eating pasta everyday and eventually develop nutrient deficiencies that leave them feeling like crap (plus bored with their food). Don’t forget your greens as these are really important for iron and calcium!
***Before anyone calls me out on it, yes I realize that a lot of these foods could go into different categories. Like I know corn is a grain not a vegetable! Quinoa is also a complete protein (it is actually a seed). But, for the sake of meal planning, I grouped foods based on the way they are generally used.
2) Vegan Staples
In addition, you will always need to have certain vegan staples on hand. Some of these are staples for any pantry, like flour and cooking oil. Some are specifically vegan, like plant milks and nut butter. If you like to bake, then you will want to have staples on hand like flax meal (acts as an egg replacer in baked goods). You’ll notice that the list of vegan spices and herbs is pretty long. A lot of vegan foods (like tofu) are really bland and need to be seasoned like crazy to make a tasty meal. Since seasonings are cheap to buy, so it is worth it to actually stock up your spice rack.
Obviously, the list doesn’t include everything that all vegans would consider a staple. But it is a good starting point. If you’ve got these in your pantry, then you can make just about any basic vegan recipe with just the addition of one or two ingredients.
Just Buy Two Ingredients from Each Category!
(that’s really all you need to make a complete vegan meal, and you’ll be able to easily make substitutions in recipes!)
Download the printable pdf version here: Vegan Shopping List