Ultimate Vegan Grocery List & Guide

Feeling lost or overwhelmed at the grocery store? This is a complete yet simple vegan grocery list to help you prepare for your trip to the grocery store.

Navigate the Grocery Store With Confidence

This vegan grocery list is for both those new to shopping for vegan foods at the store, those who are already vegan but feel lost at the store, and those looking for new options and/or a little structure at the store. Everything included is vegan with an emphasis on whole, healthy foods, but cheats and treats are included as well. 

If you are new to the vegan diet we recommend checking out our Total Guide to the Vegan Diet and Vegan Bodybuilding. It will provide a good, high level understanding.



Table of contents

How to use this guide

Our vegan grocery list is for both beginners as well as those who are already vegan but may be feeling a little lost or overwhelmed at the store.

This guide is meant to give you an overview of what vegan foods exist that you can choose from. It will help you plan out your trip to the grocery store by making a grocery list before your trip or using it as a guide as you go through the store.

Make sure you download our free, printable version of theveganbodybuilding.com Ultimate Vegan Grocery List.

Our vegan shopping list is broken down by categories of foods that you have the option to eat on a vegan diet. Each category has its own detailed list of foods within it.

Where appropriate we’ve also broke down the individual foods into recommended and okay for those transitioning or occasionally, but not the healthiest.

Lastly, where applicable we have called out gluten-free options for those staying away from gluten.

Do you have to eat every food listed in each category? No.

Do you have to eat foods from every single category? No.

What vegans don’t eat

For those of you that are following or are interested in following a vegan diet you will need to understand what the restrictions are (like with any diet).

As we discuss in our Vegan Bodybuilding and Vegan Diet Guide a simple definition of a vegan diet is one that contains absolutely no animal products, whether in food, drinks, supplements, etc. 

To understand this we will break down the “animal product” exclusions into a few components.

First, and most basic vegan diets do not include any animal meat, including any animals on land, such as beef, poultry, or pork, or in the sea (fish) or air/sky (the birds and bees).

Second, the vegan diet excludes any product that comes from an animal, such as eggs and dairy (cheese, milk, etc.). Also, animal products include animal fat, skin, organs, blood, bones, hooves, tongues, stomach lining, etc.

Lastly, it excludes any food that uses animal products as an ingredient, such as gelatin, or as any type of processing aid, such as animal based fining agents in wine made from eggs, etc.

The full list of animal products is extensive. If you are interested to learn all vegan diet exclusions, including animal-derived ingredients check out PETA’s comprehensive list.

If you are following a vegetarian or plant-based diet that is not fully vegan then you will have some more flexibility. For purposes of this article all foods that are listed are suited for a vegan diet.

Shopping on a budget

One excuse and/or complaint that comes up a lot is that it’s expensive to eat a vegan or vegetarian diet. This is another misconception of the vegan/vegetarian diet.

From my personal experience we have reduced our family’s weekly grocery bill by a good amount since I have gone vegan.

In reality the truth is that animal proteins and dairy are pretty expensive. Plant-based protein sources are .

The table below breaks down tofu (a plant-based protein) vs. different animal proteins by price/lb. and price/3 oz. serving size. Lastly, we standardize everything by giving the price/20g protein. In other words, if you are trying to get 20g protein from a meal this would be the cost to achieve that 20g protein for different protein options.

When compared to ground beef, steak and chicken breast Tofu is the cheapest per pound and the cheapest per 3 oz. serving size. Except for chicken breast, the least expensive animal meat option, tofu is the least expensive way to get 20 g of protein.

Tofu was used because it is a good example of a complete, plant-based protein. There are also several other vegan protein sources that are even cheaper, such as legumes.

ProductPrice ($)/lb.Price ($) Per 3 oz. ServingProtein (g)/ 3 oz. ServingPrice ($)/ 1g Protein Price ($)/ 20g Protein
Tofu$2.85$0.5315$0.035$0.70
Ground Beef (93%)$5.63$1.0623$0.046$0.92
Steak, sirloin, USDA Choice, boneless$8.44$1.5823$0.069$1.38
Boneless Chicken Breast$3.06$0.5720$0.0285$0.57
US city prices taken from https://www.bls.gov/regions/mid-atlantic/data/averageretailfoodandenergyprices_usandmidwest_table.htm

I am confident that using this vegan grocery list and following a vegan diet can actually help you save money at the store by buying plant-based, whole foods.

Fill your vegan grocery list with healthy, whole foods

vegan grocery list, whole foods, healthy
Photo by Ready Made on Pexels.com

One of the biggest benefits of a largely whole food, vegan diet is that it is healthy. In turn, in order to maximize the benefits the diet can provide it is our recommendation that you focus on and choosing healthy, whole vegan foods vs. processed vegan foods.

Of course we understand that the transition to the vegan diet is difficult. It can be a big change to cut out not only animal products but also processed foods altogether.

The good news is that there are several food manufacturers offering vegan processed/packaged options. These products offer substitutes for those who are transitioning from an animal based and/or processed food diet and for those vegans who still prefer processed foods.

Vegan grocery list items

Download your copy of our printable vegan grocery list.

Pick a few from each group for the week. Try out new foods each week until you find your favorites. Some of these foods will be staples and some will vary from week to week depending on your weekly meal plan and tastes.

Do note, some food categories have an endless list of foods. In these instances we have selected ones that are more popular, commonly available and/or very beneficial.

You may want to download our free, printable version of theveganbodybuilding.com Ultimate Vegan Grocery List before you go through the list below. You can jot down items for each category as you go through this guide.


Fruit

vegan shopping list_fruits_pineapple
Photo by Lisa Fotios on Pexels.com

Location in store: produce section

Personally I use fruit for 2 things: smoothies and snacks. Smoothies are great with both fresh and frozen fruits. Fruit is also a great snack in between meals.

I recommend you select a few staple fruits per week and then maybe a few new fruits to keep your fruit eating experience exciting. My staple fruits are apples, bananas, blueberries and strawberries.

If the fruit is on sale buy it in bulk to save some money. If you don’t think you are going to eat it all then put it in your freezer and eat it as a snack or in your smoothie.

  • Apples – the perfect snack (recommend peeling)
  • Avocado
  • Bananas – fresh are great, and you can freeze them in slices.
  • Berries – all are available fresh and frozen
    • Strawberries
    • Blueberries
    • Blackberries
    • Rasberries
  • Coconut meat – if you prefer to cut your own coconut
  • Cherries
  • Figs
  • Grapefruit
  • Jackfruit – can be used in both sweet and savory recipes
  • Lemons & limes – great for savory dishes as well as for water
  • Mango
  • Melons – for those with a sweet tooth
    • Cantaloupe
    • Honeydew
    • Watermelon
  • Oranges
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Pineapple – a cleansing fruit that is deliciously sweet when ripe
  • Plantains
  • Plums

Vegetables

vegetarian shopping list, vegetables
Photo by Matheus Cenali on Pexels.com

Location in store: produce section

Veggies can be used for meals, smoothies and snacks. They are critical no matter what your macronutrient or fitness goals are. They should be included in both cutting and bulking diets

Veggies are nutrient dense, packed with fiber to fill you up and they provide some protein. At the same time they are low in calories and for the most part low in fat. Veggies help to keep you healthy and have been shown to fight diseases.

Just like with fruit I recommend you select 3-5 staple veggies per week to simplify your meal prep. Add other veggies as you want to try new ones to keep your diet exciting or if you need them for specific recipes.

If you have a specific nutrient you are looking to get from your diet you can select vegetables based on that as well.

My staple veggies are cabbage, broccoli, carrots and spinach. I also rotate between asparagus and brussel sprouts.

  • Asparagus – source of iron and fibre
  • Bok Choy – good for vitamin C, K, B6, calcium, iron and folacin, etc.
  • Broccoli – great source of vitamin C
  • Brussel sprouts – great for vitamins K, C, maganese, potassium, etc.
  • Cabbage, green – high in vitamin C
  • Cabbage, red – high in vitamins C and K
  • Carrots – a source of potassium
  • Cauliflower – high in vitamin C
  • Celery – good as a snack, salads, smoothies, etc.
  • Collards – very high source of vitamin K
  • Cucumbers – great for salads, cucumber water, etc.
  • Fresh edamame – very high in potassium and high in Vitamins C, B1 as well as magesium, iron, calcium, zinc and fibre
  • Green beans
  • Kale – great for salads and smoothies, its very high in vitamins K and C
  • Onions – critical for a lot of ethnic dishes (Italian, Indian, etc.)
  • Peppers – green, sweet red, etc. (stay away from peppers and other nightshade vegetables if you are looking to reduce inflammation)
  • Potatoes – red, white, yellow
  • Spaghetti Squash – great for a macaroni substitutes for low carb meals
  • Spinach – make sure you cook it to remove the bacteria
  • Squash – butternut squash is delicious once cut and baked or boiled
  • Sweet Potatoes – a healthy starch when not fried
  • Tomatoes – (stay away from tomatoes and other nightshade vegetables if you are looking to reduce inflammation)
  • Zucchini – super easy and tasty

Soy based products

vegan weight gain, tofu white bowl
Tofu and other soy products is a complete protein great for building muscle.

Location in store: I have always found the soy-based products in the produce section with other vegan/vegetarian products.

If you are looking for a relatively economical, high protein, low-carb food then soy-based products should be a main staple of your vegan grocery list. This food is definitely one of if not the best vegan protein sources and should be added to your vegan or vegetarian shopping list.

Legumes & beans

vegan shopping list, legumes
Image by Ariel Núñez Guzmán from Pixabay

Location in store: these can be found in either the ethnic food section and/or near the canned beans.

Legumes are, in my opinion also one of the best vegan protein sources.

Beans and legumes are very nutrient dense and provide high levels of both protein and carbohydrates. This is critical for body fuel and muscle growth. They are also very filling because of their high fiber content. This means you will feel satisfied for longer. Lastly, they are versatile and can be added to an endless amount of food types and recipes.

Recommendation on how to buy: buy legumes and beans dry in bags vs. canned if you have the time to soak and cook them. They are much more economical than their canned counterpart, and they don’t have to worry about the BPA lining of cans or the high sodium levels of the canned versions.

Bean/legume options

  • Soybeans: we covered soybean products earlier, but they are included here because they are beans.
  • Black beans: great for ethnic food, such as Mexican inspired recipes and they can also be used as the base of many veggie bean burgers.
  • Chickpeas: 
    • Chickpeas are my go-to legume. They can be cooked up in batches for easy meal preparation. They can be used for so many types of dishes from vegan falafel to Indian curries, etc. Palouse Brand offers a non-GMO product grown in the US in 3lb., 5lb. and 25lb. bags for ultimate savings!
  • Fava beans
  • Kidney beans: These can be used for vegan chili, soups, etc.
  • Lentils: great for a punch of protein and carbohydrates. Lentils are very versatile and easy to incorporate into most dishes
  • Peas, including snow peas, black-eyed peas, etc.
  • Peanut butter (traditional): great for smoothies, sandwiches and snacks as well as for certain ethnic recipes. You do need to be careful when you are buying peanut butter. Look at the ingredients. Some peanut butters are loaded with unhealthy oils and added sugar. Spread The Love makes an organic, vegan product with one ingredient, peanuts.
  • Peanut butter powder: 
    • If you want the protein and tasty benefits of peanut butter without the high calories and fat content than peanut butter is a good option. PBfit offers a vegan option with only 2g of added sugar.

Dairy alternatives

Location in store: milk and dairy coolers/area

If you used cow’s milk or butter frequently and are transitioning to a vegan diet then you will be happy to know that there are vegan alternatives. Even if you are like me and just use a teaspoon of almond milk with morning coffee, these are worth adding to your vegan grocery list.

Vegan milks

vegan grocery list, almond milk
Image by Lisa Redfern from Pixabay

There are so many different vegan (plant based) milk options at the store! This is an area where you may get overwhelmed. I would suggest you try out a different kind per week until you find what you like.

Recommendation on where to start: Soy milk and almond milk are two good ones to start with.

Regardless of which type of vegan milk you pick I would recommend going with an unsweetened one if you are trying to reduce your sugar intake. These will say “UNSWEETENED” on them, usually in a bright call out on the packaging, such as a pink or red ribbon.

ChooseVeg has a great article with a list vegan milks and how to chose the best one to add to your vegan or vegetarian shopping list.

From ChooseVeg’s article the different vegan milks include:

  • Almond milk
  • Cashew milk
  • Coconut milk
  • Flax milk
  • Hazelnut milk
  • Hemp milk
  • Oat milk
  • Pea milk
  • Rice milk
  • Soy milk

Other Vegan Dairy Products

Although not the healthiest, there are also many other vegan dairy replacement products for those transitioning from an animal-based diet. Use these to transition or if you just want to, but we recommend using them in moderation and eating more healthy, whole-foods.

Some of these are listed below.

  • Vegan butter
  • Cheeses (vegan) and such – slice cheese, cream cheeses, sour cream, etc.
  • Vegan coffee creamer
  • “Vegan eggs”
  • Dairy-free/vegan ice cream
  • Vegan mayonaise
  • Vegan yogurts

Nuts & seeds

Location in store: varies by store. In my experience raw nuts and seeds will usually be in the baking aisle. Roasted and processed versions are typically in the snack aisle.

Nuts

Nuts are a great snack, can be added to oatmeal (and other things) and also can be used to make homemade nut butters and nut milks.

  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Macadamia
  • Pecans
  • Pistachios
  • Walnuts

Seeds

vegan grocery list, chia seeds, blueberries
Image by Monfocus from Pixabay

Seeds, such as chia seeds and flax seeds are nutrient packed power houses that can be added to oatmeal and smoothies, used for thickening liquids and sauces, etc. Flax meal and water create a “vegan egg” replacement. Seeds are definitely worth adding your vegan or vegetarian grocery list.

  • Chia seeds
  • Flax seeds and flax meal (broken down seeds)
  • Hemp seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds

Baking products & spices

Location in store: baking aisle

Herbs & spices

vegan grocery list, spices
Image by Matej Madar from Pixabay

If you are a cooking enthusiast or really like ethnic dishes you are in luck. There are many cuisines that are well suited for vegan diets.

Almost any cuisine has vegan options or can be turned vegan. It is a game of substitution and knowing what ingredients are in the dishes. If you are looking for a good place to start Vegan.com provides a list of vegan friendly cuisines. These include Ethiopian, Indian, Italian, Japanese, Mexican, and Middle Eastern.

We look at common spices for each of these cuisines that you should be able to find at your grocery store or ethnic food store.

Ethiopian vegan spices

Steer clear of niter kibbeh, which is a clarified butter used in many dishes.

  • Spice mixes
    • Berbere
    • Mekelesha
  • Cardamon
  • Cinnamon
  • Fenugreek
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Turmeric
  • Nutmeg
Indian vegan spices

Steer clear of ghee, a clarified butter. Many of the Ethiopian spices are also used for Indian cuisine.

See a great overview of vegan Indian spices and cooking at VeganRicha.com.

Some common Indian spices are below:

  • Amchur
  • Bay leaves
  • Cardamon
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Coriander seeds
  • Coriander powder
  • Cumin seeds
  • Cumin powder
  • Fennel
  • Fenugreek
  • Nutmeg
  • Red chili
  • Turmeric
Italian vegan spices
  • Basil
  • Bay leaves
  • Garlic – preferably fresh but also powder
  • Oregano
  • Parsley
  • Red pepper
Japanese vegan spices
  • Dried seaweed (nori, sheets, flakes)
  • Gomacio
  • Mirin
  • Miso
  • Sesame seeds
  • Soy sauce (has gluten)
  • Tamari: gluten-free soy sauce
Mexican vegan spices
  • Black pepper
  • Cumin
  • Garlic – fresh and powder
  • Onion powder
  • Cilantro – fresh
  • Chilis – fresh and powders such as red chili
Middle Eastern vegan spices
  • Allspice
  • Anise
  • Caraway
  • Cardamon
  • Cumin
  • Lemon
  • Mint
  • Nutmeg
  • Olive oil
  • Parsley
  • Sumac
  • Turmeric

Nutritional yeast

It is definitely worth it to purchase some nutritional yeast if you are on a vegan or plant-based diet. The yellow flakes can be purchased in most grocery stores and also online.

According to Women’s Health nutritional yeast offers many health benefits. It delivers more than your daily requirements of B-12, B6, folate as well as antioxidants. It also offers fiber and is a source of complete protein.

Not only does it offer a boat load of nutritional value, but it also serves another, very important purpose: it tastes like cheese!

Natural vegan sweeteners

vegan grocery list, maple syrup, wooden spoon
Image by piviso from Pixabay

If you are looking to rid your diet of highly refined, processed sugars, but still want the ability to add some sweetness to your foods and smoothies up then you are in luck. There are numerous plant-based sweeteners to chose from.

Stay away from artificial sugar replacements like Sweet’N Low as these are not natural.

Some options for plant-based, vegan sweeteners are below:

  • Brown rice syrup
  • Dates
  • Date syrup – blend a cup of dates and water
  • Pure maple syrup
  • Stevia
  • Sucanat
  • Swerve
    • Swerve may be the closest natural, plant-based substitute for refined sugar. Also it has zero calories, zero net carbs, non-GMO. The manufacturer states that it is vegan and not derived from any animal products.

Flours

Flours are helpful for baking and cooking. There are many flours available outside of traditional wheat-based flours. If you

If you want to learn more Iosune over Simple Vegan Blog has a great overview on gluten-free vegan flours.

Some common gluten-free flours are listed below.

  • Almond flour
  • Brown rice flour
  • Chickpea flour
  • Coconut flour
  • Cornflour
  • Oat flour – look for one that states gluten-free as oats are usually contaminated during growing and/or processing.

Other baking items

vegan grocery list, cacao powder, cacao bean
Image by janiceweirgermia from Pixabay

There are several other baking items that you can use for your vegan recipes.

  • Cacao powder
  • Flaxmeal – mentioned in the seed section, but relevant here as it is used to make vegan eggs
  • Plant-based oils – coconut, vegetable oil, olive oil
  • Starches/thickeners like arrowroot flour are good for both baking and savory dishes
  • Vinegar – apple cider, white

Grains & grain products

vegan grocery list, quinoa, basil, fork, knife
Image by PactoVisual from Pixabay

Location in store: numerous locations depending on the specific food item.

These can be used as a side dish to add carbohydrates and other nutrients. A list of some of the common grains are below. We have denoted those that are gluten-free as well.

GF)* – Gluten free

(GF)** – Inherently gluten free, but often contaminated during growing or processing. Look for packaging that explicitly states gluten free.

Packaged items, treats & other processed items

Location in store: numerous locations depending on the specific food item.

There is no shortage of vegan processed foods. The rise in popularity of plant-based diets have created an influx of vegan processed products.

We have covered many of these items already in certain sections above, but there are so many.

As mentioned at the beginning of this guide we recommend healthy, whole foods over processed foods. However, for those who are transitioning or just can’t live with these products you can add some to your vegan grocery list.

Some of these foods were made for the specific purpose of being vegan. Others were not made to be vegan, but just happen to be vegan. Check out PETA’s list of non-vegan foods that happen to be vegan.

  • Baked goods
  • Beverages
  • Cereals
  • Frozen vegetables
  • Frozen fruits
  • Breakfast products including sandwiches, waffles, plant-based meats, wraps, burritos
  • Plant-based burger patties – Beyond Meat patties, veggie burgers, bean/veggie patties
  • Plant-based meat alternatives – ground, sausages, etc.
  • Pizza
  • Pasta
  • Snacks
  • Vegan seafood
  • Non-dairy ice cream

Vegan Protein Powders & Meal Replacement Shakes

Another item to add to your vegan shopping list is vegan protein powder and/or vegan meal replacement shakes. You can use the meal replacement shakes to replace a meal or make a quick meal. You can use the vegan protein powders for after workout shakes or to supplement your food intake.

These products are, in my experience where I am located hard to locate at common grocery stores. If you do find it at a store the selection will probably be very limited. As such, we recommend buying your vegan protein powder online as there are more options and it is more economical.

Vegan Protein Powders

Vegan protein powders can be used for pre-workout, post-workout or just as a supplement to your diet.

It is important to look for a vegan protein powder that will provide complete protein. The only vegan protein powder that is a complete protein by itself is soy protein. If you don’t want to or cannot consume soy then there are other options. In order to create complete protein you will either have to buy and mix multiple types or buy a pre-made blend that is a complete protein blend.

Some of the highest rated vegan protein powder products we have come across are below. These are provided as suggestions; there are many others out there.

  • Orgain Organic Plant-Based Protein Powder – this vegan protein powder blends pea protein, brown rice protein and chia seeds) to deliver 21g of protein per serving and is vegan, gluten free, has no added sugar, is soy free, and is non-GMO. You can get it in Vanilla or Chocolate, etc.
  • Garden of Life Raw Organic Protein – a vegan protein powder blend made from pea protein and 13 raw organic sprouts. Has 22g of protein per serving with only 2g of carbs. It is organic, gluten free, vegan, soy free, and non-GMO.
  • Garden of Life Sport Organic Plant-Based, vegan protein blend. This one offers 30g of complete protein, BCAAs, and probiotics. Its vegan, organic, non-GMO, gluten free, soy free and has no added sugars.
  • Vega Sport Premium Protein – a vegan protein powder blend made from pea protein, pumpkin seed protein, organic sunflower seed protein, etc. This product is also vegan, gluten free, non-GMO, and has no artificial colors or flavors or sweeteners.

Vegan Meal Replacement Powders

Meal replacement shakes are a great way to make a quick breakfast and still get a healthy dose of protein and nutrients. They may also help you reduce the calories of a single meal.

If you are looking for a meal replacement shake some of the highest rated products we have come across are below. These are provided as suggestions; there are many others out there.

  • Soylent Meal Replacement Shake – this is marketed as a ready to drink, complete meal with 20g protein, 36 nutrients and slow burning carbs to keep you feeling full for a good amount of time. It’s vegan, gluten-free, nut free, and low-GI. This product comes in a 12 pack.
  • Ka’Chava Meal Replacement Shake – This meal replacement shake is vegan, gluten free, soy free, has no preservatives and no artificial sweeteners, flavors or colors. Its ingredients include maca, chia, etc. It has 25g of protein and slow-burning carb sources to keep you full. They advertise that it has over 70 plant-based superfoods & nutrients. It’s on the pricey side, but it is packed with healthiness for sure.

Conclusion

No matter what you like to eat there are plenty of foods to pick from that meet the requirements of the vegan diet. If you have a question about whether something is vegan leave it below.

The next step is to download and print our free, Ultimate Vegan Grocery List. Once you do this you can plan out your meal plan for the week and jot down the items you will need.

The downloadable/printable grocery list also has a list of the items for each category on the back side to give you ideas.


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