There’s one key to quickly becoming a vegan with ease. And that key is to surround yourself with vegan-friendly foods. When you have easy access to foods that are vegan-friendly, you’ll be able to eat healthy meals without even thinking about it. But as you know… there are A LOT of foods out there. It can be difficult to learn what’s truly vegan and what isn’t. I’ve put together this vegan food list for beginners to help new vegans identify the foods they should have in their pantry.
But first, let me set your mind at ease. YES! This vegan food list will give your body the nutrients it needs to not only survive but thrive. Benefits of a plant-based diet are wide ranging: from reducing the risk of fatal diseases like cancer to maintaining a healthy body weight. Most new vegans get stuck in the overwhelming and unending list of foods, what to eat or what is vegan and healthy, and if there is enough food variety for a well-balanced diet. Let’s solve that problem and get your journey off to a great start.
Remember to Keep an Eye on Your Daily Nutrition Intake
Before starting on the vegan diet, consider the effects the diet with have on your body. Traditional American diets combine plants with animal meats to nourish the body. Switching to a plant-based diet and completely eliminating meat will cause your body to adjust. And you will have to be mindful of what you’re consuming to make up for the potential decrease in nutrients that are found in meats (protein is typically the main concern). In my opinion, it is not difficult to add protein to a vegan diet (as you’ll see below), but it’s something to be aware of as you’ll want to consume a balanced diet. When you consume a well-balanced plant-based diet, you’ll receive tons of benefits…
Veggies Reduce the Risk of Diseases
Various studies and research have shown that veggies and plant-based nutrients reduce the risk of several diseases like heart diseases. A study reveals that a vegan diet reduces the risk of high blood pressure compared to meat-based diets. A whole fiber-rich diet helps to promote digestion and provide more nutrients to the body. Being a vegan reduces the chances of getting type 2 diabetes. Veggies reduce inflammation in the body thus aiding in the prevention of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
Veggies Help To Reduce Weight
Based on the nutritional content, it is worth considering that veggies are weight loss friendly. A study also confirms the finding that diets high in veggies are twice as effective as the meat-based diet when it comes to weight loss. So, if you’re looking to shed a few extra pounds, being a vegan will help you do just that.
Veggies Improve Your Skin
A vegan diet also surpasses a meat-based diet when it comes to skin care. Fruits and veggies contain powerful antioxidants and nutrients that prevent skin from damage and reduce the formation of wrinkles and dark spots.
How to Get the Most of Your Healthy Vegan Food List for Beginners
To make the process of shopping easier and friendly for your budget, follow these steps:
Prefer To Shop In Person
There’s no doubt that shopping online has made it easier to get things done. But if you’re learning a new diet, you’ll definitely want to take some time to explore the grocery store yourself before ordering your groceries online. As a related note, I would highly recommend going to a local farmers market if you happen to live near one.
Choose Healthy Ingredients
Processed vegan food can be full of sodium, sugar and loaded with calories. To get the true benefits of a vegan diet, it is best to choose whole plant-based foods as often as possible. These nutrient-rich food include fruits, vegetables, nuts, and legumes. Well-balanced meals like this BBQ tofu bowls recipe are rich in healthy nutrients and whole foods keep you stay full for a longer period of time.
Prioritize Your Food List
Don’t go to the grocery store without a grocery list. You can create a custom list of the foods you need to buy based on the meals you want to prepare. Follow these points to make a draft of your list.
- Plan your meals ahead of time and know what you need to buy
- Prepare a well-balanced meal plan to ensure you consume a complete diet each week
- Save the recipes you LOVE so you always have a go-to
- Plan to prepare meals in advance, when possible, make meals for 3-5 days at a time (it always helps to have prepared meals in the fridge!)
- Always keep healthy vegan snacks on hand
Look For Non-Vegan Ingredients
If you feel frustrated looking at food labels, know that you are definitely not alone! Everyone who transitions from a meat-based diet to a plant-based diet feels the uncertainty that comes with trying to decipher what ingredients actually are. Luckily, there are websites now that will tell you if an ingredient is or isn’t friendly, so when it doubt its quick and easy to check. But to get started, here is a list of common ingredients that are in most meat-based diets but aren’t vegan-friendly:
- Lactic Acid
- Oleic Acid
The Ultimate Vegan Food List for Beginners
Here is the complete vegan food list for beginners to ensure you consume a vegan-friendly diet:
Various vegetables provide flavor and taste to the vegan diet. It is best practice to buy seasonal vegetables rather than frozen or preserved, if feasible. Low in fat, calories, and high in nutrients, vegetables serve to complete your whole healthy meal. Even leafy fresh green vegetables can hold a load of nutrients. For example, 100 grams of spinach contain 1.1 times more iron than the same amount of red meat.
Leafy greens such as kale and spinach are loaded with fiber and are considered great options for weight loss diets. Surprisingly, the spinach provides 57% RDI of folate and 29% for magnesium-such a punch pack of nutrients in just one cup.
Here is the list of vegetables that will best suit your vegan diet.
- Acorn Squash
- Butternut Squash
Leafy Green Vegetables
- Butter lettuce
- Leaf lettuce
- Salad mixes
- Sweet potato
Fruits are a huge health booster – and should be a huge part of EVERY diet. Eating fruits in your daily diet reduces the risk of several diseases including cancer, heart diseases, and diabetes. Fruit fresh, frozen, or dried fruits, are all good options. Each type is nutrient-dense with vitamins and essential minerals. Dried fruits enhance the immunity of the body, energize the cells, and serves as excellent snacks.
Berries being rich in antioxidants protects the body especially the heart from oxidative stress and inflammation contributing to diseases. Dried beans are the densest nutrient and preferred to canned beans that are processed. No vegan food list for beginners is complete without the following fruits:
- Honeydew melon
- Mango slice
- Sundried tomatoes
Beans and Legumes
As I said earlier, don’t stress about the protein content of your vegan diet! Beans and legumes are the economic sources of providing high protein and other minerals. They are rich in iron, folate, calcium, potassium, zinc, fiber, plant protein, and many others.
Beans and legumes are also packed with carbohydrates-which serve as fuel for the kidney, heart, muscles, and nervous system.
Beans supply a sufficient concentration of fiber and starch-enhancing the feeling of fullness and prevent overeating. Besides this, various studies and research confirms that beans and legumes lower cholesterol, improves heart health, reduce risk of intestinal cancer, prevents diabetes by regularizing insulin level, and promotes gut health.
One cup of boiled soybean (175 grams) supplies 29 grams of protein-boost energy, build muscles, and help weight loss.
- Black beans
- Butter beans
- Cannellini beans
- Fave beans
- Lima beans
- Kidney beans
- Pinto beans
- White beans
- Chickpea flour
- Lentil flour
- Soybean flour
- Haricot beans
- Red kidney beans
Whole grains are naturally rich in fiber, carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, antioxidants, and some minerals. Just one ounce of dry oats provides 69% of the Reference Daily Intake of Magnesium.
Enriching your diet with whole grains imparts several positive benefits to the body. A conclusion made by 10 research shows that using 1 ounce serving of whole grains in your daily diet reduces the risk of heart diseases by 22%.
Collectively, whole grains keep the body healthy by reducing the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, chronic inflammation, cancer, and heart diseases.
Whole grains are nutrient full and superior to refined grains. So, in your beginners’ vegan food list, prefer to use whole grains over refined grains to get the most nutrients.
- Whole-wheat bread
- Whole-wheat flour
- White bread
- White flour
- White rice
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are a great source of healthy fats, vitamins, fibers, minerals, and nutrients-keeps the body system healthy and active in various ways. The nutritious count for each nut varies. It is found that just one brazil nut supplies the 100% Reference Daily Intake value of selenium-prevents cell damage and infection.
The nuts also help to reduce the cholesterol level in the body, a major plus point for the vegan diet people. A study found that there was a 26-33% drop in bad cholesterol LDL within 2-8 hours after consuming the whole pecan.
Also, nuts help to weight loss more significantly than olive oil. Various studies suggest that eating almonds and pistachios loses weight rapidly as compared to control diet groups.
Either sprinkle over the cauliflower soup or use in cashew tofu, vegans will get endless benefits and nutrients from the nuts and seeds.
- Brazil nuts
- Australian nuts
- Pine nuts
- Basil seeds
- Chia seeds
- Hemp seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Sesame seeds
Herbs and Spices
Spices and herbs change the whole taste of food from bitter to spicy and fruity to pungent. But the discussion doesn’t end here, they are also enriched with healthy nutrients to provide a complete meal and diet for the vegans. Most of them have medicinal properties owning to the richness in antioxidants and fiber, so must keep them in your beginners’ vegan food list.
Either use the cinnamon for seasoning or in deserts, it is full of antiviral, antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. A study found that cinnamon can reduce sugar by 10-29% in diabetic people.
Peppermint helps to reduce digestive issues by relieving pain during bowel movements and also control abdominal bloating.
Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties which makes it an excellent medicinal agent. Studies show that it improves brain functioning and reduces the risk of cancer and heart disease.
- Mustard seeds
- Vegetable stock
- Fenugreek powder
Cooking Oils and Fats
Might be expensive but plant-based oils are a great choice for frying, drizzling, and cooking in the vegan diet. Researches reveal that these oils have a lot of benefits for the human body rather than the banaspati oil.
Olive oil is at the top of the list and is healthy and nutritious in many ways from frying to drizzling. Extra virgin olive oil keeps the weight in control, protects against diabetes, reduces heart problems and blood pressure, and also boosts hair and skin health. Vegan people can enjoy the benefits of olive oil by drizzling on pasta, cooking food, or in salad dressing.
Not only for skin but the almond is miraculous for the body as well from the heart to maintaining weight. Just one tablespoon of almond oil provides 26% RDI of Vitamin E. Unrefined almond oil is cost-effective and more nutritious than refined oil.
- Almond oil
- Canola oil
- Coconut oil
- Olive oil (extra virgin)
- Macadamia oil
- Sesame oil
One may worry about the milk, cheese, and dairy products on a vegan diet. But there are a lot more healthy alternatives to dairy. On the top of the list is almond milk.
Almond milk is regarded as a popular low-calorie and highly nutritious drink with health benefits. It helps to lose weight and reduce the risk of diseases like osteoporosis and maintain the functioning of the heart and muscles.
Oatmilk being high in fiber and vitamins is a healthy drink for the vegan diet. It strengthens bones, reduces LDL, and provides 50% of the daily value of vitamin B12.
- Almond milk
- Cashew milk
- Coconut milk
- Flax milk
- Hazelnut milk
- Oat milk
- Rice milk
- Soy milk
- Plant-based yogurt
- Dairy-free cheese
Bread and Pasta
- Whole wheat pasta
- Chickpea pasta
- Lentil pasta
- Whole wheat grain or wheat bread
- English muffins
- Agave syrup
- Brown rice syrup
- Date syrup
- Maple syrup
- Coconut sugar
- Yacon root syrup
Condiments or Sauces
- Apple cider vinegar
- Apple sauce
- Barbecue sauce (remember to check for honey)
- Lemon juice
- Hoisin sauce
- Maple syrup
- Vegan alfredo sauce
- Vegan butter
- Soy sauce
- Vegan mayonnaise
Other Vegan Food Items
There are many other items that you can include in your beginners’ vegan food list to get a variety of dishes and ingredients. Here are a few of my personal favorites to keep on-hand:
- Nutritional yeast
- Vegetable broth
- Psyllium husk
- Dried seaweed
- Green powder
- Coconut cream