New to plant-based eating or just need some fresh inspiration for your vegan diet? Here are over 100 healthy vegan foods to add to your grocery list next time you head to the store or farmers market.
How to Follow a Vegan Diet
At first glance vegan and plant-based diets sound exactly the same, but it depends on whom you ask.
WFPB (shorthand for whole food plant-based) is a mouthful to say but the name is self-explanatory. This plant-based diet focuses on incorporating whole foods to support a sustainable and healthy lifestyle while limiting processed foods and animal-based products.
Vegetarian diets have a little more flexibility, allowing some dairy products like eggs, milk, cheese, and yogurt.
Veganism is a style of eating that eliminates all forms of animal products including, meat, seafood, dairy, eggs, and animal-based ingredients.
Vegan is defined more closely as a lifestyle choice and often expands beyond just food - with many vegans choosing to remove all animal products from their life, including things like leather and fur.
Foods that Are Not Vegan
Veganism is one of the strictest diets in a sense you will completely eliminate your consumption of all animal products or anything of animal origin, including but not limited to:
- Meat and poultry products
- Fish and seafood
- Dairy and dairy products
- Eggs and egg-containing products
- Bee products
That being said there are also processed foods that contain animal-derived ingredients such as certain food additives and coloring, gelatin, and any product enriched with omega-3 that may come from fish.
Be sure to check your food labels and ingredient list if you are purchasing processed foods, there are
How to Build a Balanced Vegan Grocery List
No matter what lifestyle approach you choose, getting the right balance of nutrition through macronutrients (protein, fats, and carbohydrates) and essential micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) is vital for maintaining good health and reaching your goals.
Our vegan food list covers what you need to know about building a grocery list with nutrient-dense foods split up into basic categories:
- Plant-Based Proteins: Legumes and meat-alternatives
- Vegetables: Non-Starchy and Starchy
- Dairy Alternatives
- Whole Grains and Other Carbohydrates
- Herbs and Spices
- Pantry Staples
- Healthy Fats
But just because something is vegan (or plant-based), doesn’t make it automatically good for you - there are plenty of high-calorie, high sugar, processed vegan options on the market.
When looking for the best vegan options at the store, remember to check the nutrition facts label and track your daily food intake.
To help you get the most out of your vegan meal prep, here is your complete guide to the best vegan foods, organized by macronutrient.
The Best Vegan Proteins
It’s commonly stated that vegans don’t get enough protein in their diet or that they actually need more protein than meat-eaters. And you may be asking yourself, how much protein do I need on a vegan meal plan?
Regardless of whether you are eating meat or not, your protein needs are strongly guided by your activity level, health and fitness goals, and total calorie intake. On average, you should probably be striving to get at least 25 to 30g of protein per meal, or 1g of protein per kg of body weight (your weight in lbs divided by 2.2).
Thus, understanding which foods pack the most protein per calorie (protein density) and serving size is your best bet for achieving a high protein vegan diet and making the most out of your grocery shopping.
You can start off by focusing on purchasing 1-2 different proteins for your weekly meal prep and then start pairing them together for more complete protein options.
15 Vegan Protein Options
- Beans and Legumes: Navy Beans, Pinto Beans, Black Beans, Butter Beans, Fava Beans, Chickpeas, Lima Beans, Black Eyed Peas, etc.
- Green Peas
- Protein Pasta
- Textured Vegetable Protein
- Pea Protein
- Meat Alternatives like Beyond Meat
- Veggie Burgers
- Veggie Meat-Balls or Falafel (usually in the frozen aisle)
Here is where you can go wild when it comes to variety and nutrient density when planning your vegan grocery list. There is a whole world of vegetable options available, from collard greens to artichokes and parsnips.
Because of their unique nutritional breakdown, eating more veggies can allow you to get massive amounts of nutrition without throwing your vegan macro balance out of whack.
A diet high in fruits, vegetables, and other plant foods are associated with heart health, weight loss, and reduced risk of multiple chronic diseases (1,2,3). Additionally, eating more produce is linked to improved mood, energy, and appetite control (4,5).
These effects are mainly because many plants contain fiber and are high in many essential nutrients. And eating more nutrient-dense foods can have profound health benefits.
Aim to include plenty of non-starchy fruits and veggies with every meal to eat a balanced diet and improve your intake of vitamins and minerals.
20 Delicious Vegetable Options
- Snap Peas
- Collard Greens
- Brussel Sprouts
- Green Beans
- Bok Choy
- Dandelion Greens
- Sea Vegetables: Seaweed, Kelp, and Algae
Vegan Dairy Alternatives
There is also a growing market for vegan dairy substitutes, some better than others. Be sure to read the nutrition label and check to see if milk is low in sugar and has a good amount of protein (at least 7 grams per cup).
Some varieties can be high in sugar, adding empty calories to your day.
Regardless, dairy alternatives are a great way to get your dairy fix and stick to your vegan plan.
To find the best dairy alternatives, check the nutrition facts label and look for options that are lower in calories and added sugar, and contain some protein.
13 Dairy Alternatives
- Soy Milk
- Almond Milk
- Cashew Milk
- Oat Milk
- Coconut Milk
- Rice Milk
- Hemp Milk
- Flax Milk
- Vegan Yogurt made from Soy, Almond, or Coconut
- Vegan Cheeses made from Almond, Soy, Cashews, or Nutritional Yeast
- Vegan Ice Cream
- Vegan Mayo
- Vegan Butter
Whole Grains and Other Carbohydrates
When it comes to quality carbohydrates, a vegan diet has no shortage - mainly because carbs come from plants and all foods that grow out of the ground! Which is essentially everything included on a vegan meal plan.
Some carb sources also provide a small amount of protein - like whole grains and some starchy vegetables.
Of course, many traditional sweeteners and sources of added sugar can also qualify as vegan. And while these may fit into your lifestyle, they don’t always offer the best nutrition and can be easy to overdo.
Opt for more fiber-rich whole foods like whole grains and fruits and less refined carbohydrates like added sugars and those found in processed foods.
11 Whole Grains and Carbohydrates
- Brown Rice and Other Whole Grain Rice
- Millet, Rye, and Wheat
- Sweet Potatoes and Other Potatoes
- Winter Squash (butternut, kabocha, spaghetti squash.
- Whole Wheat Pasta or Protein Pasta
Fruits are whole foods, high in natural nutrition, and contain no added ingredients. Like most plant-based foods, fruits can provide a lot of essential nutrition to your diet - nearly all fruits are high in potassium, vitamin C, and fiber. Plus they are naturally low calorie, low sodium, and low fat, making them a great food for weight loss.
Fruit intake is also associated with a wide range of health benefits including improved digestive health, heart health, mental health, and weight management, along with the reduced risk of type 2 diabetes (6,7,8,9,10).
Fruits also make a great natural sugar substitute for those that have a sweet tooth or are looking to cut added sugars from their diet. A small piece of fruit can often hit the spot and provide significantly more nutritional value than other “sweets”.
You can incorporate fruits into your weekly grocery list via fresh fruits, frozen fruit, dried fruit, or 100% fruit juice or pressed juice.
13 Fresh and Dried Fruits
- Dried Figs
- Dried Apricots
- Dried Prunes
Rich and Flavorful Herbs and Spices
Bring some variety and excitement to your recipes by moving away from the classic salt and pepper seasoning to utilizing various herbs and spices, adding flavor and nutritional value.
Certain superfoods like spirulina powder and nutritional yeast contain small amounts of protein and B-vitamins.
Purchase whole spices when possible, often this will be in the form of whole dried seeds, leaves, bark, and roots all of which contain high amounts of aromatic oils, and beneficial constituents.
Substitute ground spices for whole if unable to source the whole, note that this will result in a less potent spice blend. Whole spices have a longer shelf life and increased flavor compared to their ground counterparts; this means you usually can use less for the same amount of flavor.
Keeping a stocked spice cabinet will help you avoid meal prep burnout, and give you a world of flavor to play with. Don't forget about fresh herbs as well! A little parsley or cilantro can brighten up any dish.
15 Herbs and Spices
- Nutritional Yeast
- Parsley (dried or fresh)
- Dried Oregano
- Crushed Red Pepper
- Garlic Powder
- Onion Powder
- Black Pepper
There are endless options of healthy seasonings and toppings to make your meal prep taste out of this world.
The various prepared vegan sauces and condiments on the market can add a ton of flavor and some nutrition to your dishes.
Be sure to double-check the ingredients and label to ensure it's 100% vegan - you might be surprised what doesn’t make the cut!
You’ll also want to make sure you account for any added fat, carbs, or calories the sauce may add to your meal.
10 Vegan Condiments and Sauces
- Tomato Sauce
- Soy Sauce
- Coconut Aminos
- Hot Sauce
Healthy fats are easy to come by on this diet since plant-based fats tend to be the most nutritious - with the exception of certain omega-3 fats found only in seafood.
Just watch your portion control when it comes to added fats from cooking oils and toppings - this includes plant-based oils, butter, cheeses, and high-fat sauces.
Ideally, you should aim to get more fat from whole foods, as this type of fat contains other important nutrients.
9 Popular Plant-Based Healthy Fats
- Oils: Flax Seed Oil, Sesame Oil, Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, Avocado Oil, Canola Oil, Vegan "Butter" and Vegan Margarine.
- Peanuts and Peanut Butter
- Nuts and Nut Butters: Almonds, Cashews, Pistachios, Pecans, Brazil Nuts, Walnuts, etc.
- Seeds: Chia Seeds, Flax Seeds, Hemp Seeds, Sesame Seeds, Sunflower Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds, etc.
The Best High-Protein Snacks
Let's be candid with each other, a well-balanced meal plan includes drinks and snacks.
When you plan ahead and meal prep, don't forget to include whatever snacks and drinks you would like for the week.
Plan ahead and add vegan snacks to your grocery list like:
- Roasted Chickpeas
- Sunflower Seeds or Pumpkin Seeds
- Vegan Protein Bars
- Rice Cakes and NutButter
- Marinated Artichoke Hearts and Olives
- Hummus and Vegetable Crudite
- Roasted Seaweed
- Dark Chocolate Brownies
Starting Meal Prep For Vegan Diet?
If you've decided to transition to a vegan diet or vegan meal plan, it's important to map out some idea of how you want to meal prep for the week before building your grocery list.
Here are a few questions to ask before over-spending at the store and to get you into the meal prep mindset:
- Will you start with just one recipe or prepare ingredients in bulk to portion out for multiple meals?
- Do you know how much you should be eating each day to meet your basic nutritional needs or support your health goals?
- Have you taken stock of what is already in your pantry and fridge?
- What is your typical budget for food and drinks per week, including what you spend eating out?
- Why do you want to start meal-prepping?
Need more help balancing your macros for a vegan diet? Check out Trifecta vegan meal plan to cut down on prep time and stock up on ready-to-eat healthy meals. All meals are gluten-free, made with organic whole foods, and contain zero artificial ingredients or preservatives.