Brand new to a vegan or plant-based diet? It can feel exciting, daunting and confusing all at once; especially when you embark on your first plant-based food shop. What’s vegan? What’s not vegan? And most importantly, what-on-earth-can-I-actually-eat-now?
But don’t ‘kale’ it quits just yet. Our vegan shopping list for beginners will have you filling up your trolley faster than you can say ‘where’s the tofu?’.
3 vegan food shopping tips
Before you jump into the beginner’s vegan shopping list, have a quick read over these 3 must-know tips. They’ll make the whole process much easier for you and lighter on your purse or wallet.
In a rush? Skip to the vegan shopping list…
Choose whole foods
With an ever-growing range of meat and dairy alternatives in the UK, we know it’s tempting to fill up your trolley with processed packet food, mock meats and vegan junk food. But do keep in mind that processed food is still processed food—even if it’s vegan—and should, ideally, be consumed in moderation.
For this reason, you’ll find mostly whole, nutrient-dense plant foods on this vegan shopping list. That’s things like your veggies, seeds, nuts, legumes and grains. Eating more whole foods (and less vegan junk food) means you’ll consume a far wider range of nutrients, feel fuller for longer and have much more energy.
Plus points? It’s generally more sustainable and affordable, too!
Plan your meals
Meal planning can make any dietary change much easier to handle. Sitting down once a week and planning your meals in advance will help you to:
- Create a vegan food shopping list
- Eliminate ‘what-to-eat’ stress
- Cover all your nutritional requirements
- Discover new vegan recipes and meal ideas
- Save money and reduce food waste
The process is simple. Grab a piece of paper, a few vegan cookbooks (or good old Google will do!) and pick your meals for the week ahead. Each time, make sure to write down the ingredients (and their quantities) you’ll need. That’s your vegan shopping list sorted!
If you’re looking for a faff-free healthy vegan breakfast or lunch to add to your meal plan, check out Purition Vegan. Our high-protein, fibre-packed vegan blends can be whipped into a quick shake, yoghurt or smoothie bowl or instant porridge for an easy and filling vegan breakfast. That’s one or two of your daily meals covered.
Know your labels
Some vegan products will display a clear ‘V’ or ‘Vegan’ logo on their packaging, making them super easy to grab-and-go. But many ‘accidentally vegan’ products won’t clearly signpost their products as vegan, meaning checking the fine print comes down to you.
Here are some less obvious ingredients to look out for. If a product contains any of these ingredients, it’s not vegan:
Veganuary has a more thorough list of animal-derived ingredients to look out for.
For more general tips and guidance on starting a plant-based diet, head to our how to go vegan guide.
Vegan shopping list for beginners
It’s time to start shopping! We’ve listed all the essentials here, but do keep in mind that you don’t necessarily need to stock up on all of these items at once. If you need to stock up on things like herbs, cooking oils and spices, your initial vegan food shop might seem pricier than you expected, but most of these staple items will see you through week after week.
Fruit & veg
Fresh, frozen and canned fruit and vegetables make up the bulk of a healthy vegan diet.
Shopping seasonally for vegetables is a great way to get the best produce at the best price. Check out The Vegetarian Society’s list of UK seasonal produce.
This is by no means a complete list of fruit and veg (you’d be here forever), but try to stock up on a variety of these staples to include in your everyday meals.
- Berries (try them frozen in healthy smoothies)
Green leafy vegetables
- Salad mixes
- Butternut squash
- Sweet potatoes
Did you know? Leafy greens are a great source of calcium and iron, which are both nutrients that can be harder to find on a vegan diet. Load ‘em on your daily plate; they’re one of the most nutritious foods on the planet!
Canned fruit & veg
- Chopped tomatoes (a great base for sauces and stews)
- Coconut milk (a staple for vegan curries!)
- Sundried tomatoes
Nuts & seeds
Seeds & nuts are an incredible source of healthy unsaturated fats, vitamins and protein for vegans.
Whether you have a handful as a snack or a crunchy sprinkling over your meals, making nuts & seeds a staple ingredient in your everyday vegan diet is beneficial for your health and taste buds.
Stock up on a few from this list for your store cupboard.
- Pine nuts
- Natural nut butter
- Chia seeds
- Hemp seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Sesame seeds
Beans & legumes
Protein? Check. Iron? Check. Fibre? Check! Beans and legumes are an affordable nutritional-powerhouse for vegans.
You can buy beans and lentils canned or dried. Cans are easier and quick-to-cook, while dried varieties are cheaper but take significantly longer to cook. Whatever your preference, add them to your vegan shopping list and try using them as a meat-replacing vegan protein source.
- Butter beans
- Cannellini beans
- Edamame (soy) beans
- Kidney beans
- Pinto beans
Did you know? Lentils are cheap, quick-to-cook and make a great addition to soups and salads. Plus, a cup of boiled lentils will deliver a hefty 18g of plant-powdered protein.
Once you’ve eaten the last of your cheese and milk, your fridge doesn’t have to sit empty. From oat to almond, there are so many dairy-free diet alternatives to choose from. With health and the environment in mind, our go-to is unsweetened hemp milk.
- Dairy-free milk & cream (oat, coconut, hemp, almond, rice, soy etc)
- Plant-based yoghurt (as above)
- Dairy-free cheese (typically coconut or nut-based)
Tempeh and tofu are both highly versatile, protein-packed soy foods. They’re a popular meat alternative and provide a complete protein source, alongside several other nutrients, including fibre and B vits.
Did you know? Soy is a common allergen and there is some concern surrounding its estrogen-mimicking effects. While most vegans enjoy protein-packed soy foods regularly with no problems, it’s definitely worth reading up on the risks surrounding soy for yourself.
Misc. fridge staples
- Tahini (make your own homemade hummus with this!)
For the most part, the grains you ate before you decided to go vegan, can remain on your vegan shopping list. Foods like couscous and rice are naturally vegan, but you’ll need to start checking pasta and noodle labels for egg.
Keep in mind that whole grains are much more nutritious than refined grains (like white bread and pasta) and will keep you fuller for longer. If you’re eating for weight-loss, you might also want to consider some low-carb alternatives.
- Brown rice
- Quinoa (an incredible protein source)
- Wild rice
- Wholegrain bread
- Wholewheat couscous
- Wholewheat pasta
Did you know? Many vegan foods are deficient in one or more essential amino acids, especially lysine. But quinoa is an exception to this rule and contains a complete essential amino acid profile. It’s a great source of plant-based protein.
Oil is a part of most recipes; and as you’ll be doing lots of vegan cooking from scratch, it should be a staple on your new vegan shopping list.
Most oils are naturally vegan, but they’re not created equally when it comes to health. Vegetable oils and sunflower oils are highly refined and processed, meaning they can lack both flavour and nutrition.
Instead, we’d recommend choosing one (or more!) of the following cooking oils:
- Avocado oil
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil
- Sesame oil (great for drizzling!)
Herbs, spices & sauces
A good selection of herbs and spices is crucial for vegan home cooking. You’ve probably already got most of the basics, but consider branching out a bit to really make the most of your plant-based dishes.
Spices & seasonings
- Chilli flakes
- Garam masala
- Ground ginger
- Nutritional yeast (source of B12)
- Vegetable stock
Did you know? Turmeric manages to pack a major natural anti-inflammatory health punch. Turmeric has been used for thousands of years in Ayur-Veda, the traditional medicine of India to fight allergies and boost immunity.
Sauces & condiments
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Balsamic Vinegar
- Soy Sauce
- Marmite (source of B12)
- Miso Paste
- Rice Vinegar
Vegan protein powder
If you’re new to a vegan diet and are looking for an easy way to upkeep your daily protein requirements and meet your nutritional needs, a vegan protein powder like Purition could be a worthwhile addition to your beginner’s vegan shopping list.
Purition is a whole food protein blend made of 70% ground seeds, nuts and premium European-grown plant protein. A single serving of Purition provides you with the nine essential amino acids your body needs for optimal health, alongside healthy fats, fibre and a host of naturally-occurring vitamins & minerals.
Simply blend 40g Purition with a cup of your favourite nut milk for breakfast; or use it to make your own protein energy bars, vegan smoothie bowls, pancakes or protein porridge. Find out more about Purition or start with a Vegan Discovery Box for £13.50.
New to Purition? Find your flavour with our Discovery Box.
Try out any 6 flavours for £13.50. Orders placed before 3pm Monday to Friday are shipped the same day with free and fast shipping!