When you are just getting started with a vegan diet, it can seem very overwhelming. You might be wondering if you are destined to only eat salads for the rest of your life! I assure you, that is not the case. You will enjoy an abundance of food as a vegan, including versions of your favorite meals like burgers, spaghetti and meatballs, pot pie, butter “chicken”, lasagna and more!

I created this vegan grocery list to get you started and take the guess work out of shopping. (FREE PRINTABLE)

image with a text box for grocery list for vegan beginners

What can vegans not eat?

I know this may seem obvious to some, but I think it’s a good place to start as there is actually quite a bit of confusion in our culture about what exactly a vegan can or can not eat.

The basic answer is that vegans do not eat animals or their byproducts, so no meat, dairy (cheese, milk, yogurt), eggs, or honey. If it’s an animal or it came from an animal, we don’t eat it. This includes gelatin products, like regular marshmallows, jello, etc.

Some people think being vegan means you are also gluten free, but that is not the case. I eat plenty of bread and other gluten containing foods! Of course, if you have to be gluten free for health reasons, you can exclude it from your diet. But vegan does not equal gluten free.

Vegans CAN eat sugar, but some white sugar is processed with animal bones. If you buy organic, it will be vegan. This depends on where you live in the world and what company you are buying from.

Some people choose to eat more whole foods as a vegan (a whole foods plant based diet) while others include some vegan processed food, sugar and flour, like me! ?  This is a personal choice. As long as no animals were harmed in the making, it’s all gravy to me (and yes, you can have vegan gravy!).

What do vegans eat?

Let me first say that being vegan is not about perfection. Slip ups may happen, or you might think something is vegan only later to realize it wasn’t. Don’t beat yourself up if that happens.

Maybe you need to take it slow, first cutting out meat, then dairy, then eggs. Do what works for you! If you are trying to eat more plants and ease yourself in to this lifestyle, I support your efforts! Make sure to check out 10 Tips for Going Vegan.

So, what do vegans eat? Everything else! Fruit and vegetables, of course, but also oatmeal, bread, pasta, vegan cheese, vegan mayo, vegan meat alternatives (if you choose to), beans, nuts, tofu, tempeh, chips, crackers, vegan desserts and more.

Check out my recipe index to explore the deliciousness that is vegan food!

collage of grocery list

Vegan grocery list

FREE PRINTABLE VEGAN GROCERY LIST – Click here to print the organized list.

Here I’ll break down my basic list of staples you may want to have on hand. Pick and choose what you like, and base it around your meals. With the printable, you can add any additional ingredients you need after you pick what breakfast, lunches and dinners you plan on making.

Fresh fruits

Typically I buy whatever is in season and on sale, but I tend to purchase apples and bananas year round.
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Berries – Strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries.
  • Watermelon
  • Pineapple
  • Oranges
  • Lemons and limes
  • Peaches, nectarines
  • Cherries
  • Plums
  • Cantaloupe, honeydew melon
  • Mango
  • Dried fruits – Medjool dates, raisins, cranberries, cherries, whatever else you like.

Fresh vegetables

  • Lettuces – Romaine, spinach, kale, arugula and other leafy lettuces.
  • Cruciferous veggies – Broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and cabbage.
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumbers
  • Asparagus
  • Tomatoes
  • Bell peppers
  • Carrots, whole and baby carrots
  • Celery
  • Avocado
  • Onions
  • Mushrooms
  • Garlic – Buy minced in jars for easy cooking.
  • Ginger – I often buy a tube of this, or frozen cubes.
  • Sweet potatoes
  • White/yellow potatoes
  • Eggplant
  • Butternut or acorn squash
  • Green beans, snap peas, green peas

Frozen fruits & vegetables

  • Blueberries
  • Mango
  • Cherries
  • Green peas
  • Mixed veggies – Great for pot pie
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower or cauliflower rice
  • Corn
  • Green beans
  • Edamame

Beans & legumes

I typically buy organic canned beans for convenience, but you can purchase dried as well, which are more budget friendly.

  • Chickpeas
  • Black beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Refried beans
  • Lentils – red and green or brown
  • Split peas
  • Kidney beans
  • Hummus

Vegan high protein foods & meat alternatives

  • Tofu, mostly firm or extra firm
  • Tofurky deli slices – My kids LOVE these in sandwiches.
  • Tempeh – For making vegan BLT’s and more.
  • Seitan
  • Soy Curls – Check out this beefy vegan stew made with soy curls!
  • TVP
  • Gardein vegan chicken nuggets, vegan meatballs, etc.
  • Field Roast sausages – Awesome for vegan pizza.
  • Impossible or beyond meat products
  • Protein powder – Not necessary but only if you like this sort of thing. I personally can’t stand protein powders! At least I haven’t found one I can stomach.

Nuts & seeds

  • Cashews – Raw cashews make the most delicious vegan cheeses and other creamy food. I buy them in bulk and at the best price I can find!
  • Almonds
  • Pecans
  • Walnuts
  • Sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds.
  • Peanut butter or almond butter
  • Tahini

Grains & bread

  • Bread – Just check the ingredients to make sure it’s vegan. I like Dave’s Killer Bread, sourdough bread and Ezekial sprouted bread. But even cheap sandwich bread is often vegan.
  • Bagels – Usually vegan! Pair with some vegan cream cheese.
  • Pasta – Most varieties are already vegan except for egg pasta. Choose white, whole wheat or gluten free. They even make bean based pasta now!
  • Tortillas, corn or wheat.
  • All purpose flour, whole wheat flour, buckwheat flour, almond flour, etc.
  • Brown and white rice
  • Quinoa if you like it
  • Rolled or steel cut oats

Plant milks, dairy and egg alternatives

  • Soy, almond, cashew, coconut, hemp or oat milk.
  • Vegan coffee creamer – I like Silk Plain.
  • Just Egg
  • Vegan cream cheese – Violife makes the absolute best vegan cream cheese spreads! Tofutti is also good, especially for making cheesecake.
  • Vegan cheese shreds and slices – Currently loving Violife brand, but I also love Chao, Miyoko’s and even Daiya.
  • Vegan butter – There are so many brands nowadays. I use Earth Balance, Miyoko’s and Country Crock the most. Or make your own!
  • Vegan ice cream – Cashew SoDelicious brand is my absolute favorite!

Other pantry staples

  • Tomato products – Tomato paste, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce.
  • Vegan marinara for pasta
  • Canned pumpkin
  • Ketchup
  • Mustard
  • Balsamic vinegar
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Rice vinegar
  • Jams and jellies
  • Maple syrup
  • Salsa
  • Sriracha hot sauce
  • Nutritional yeast
  • Instant yeast
  • Olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Cooking spray
  • Molasses
  • Agave
  • Organic sugar varieties for baking
  • Coconut milk, canned
  • Red curry and green curry paste
  • Soy sauce or tamari
  • Baking powder and baking soda
  • Salt
  • Cornstarch or arrowroot
  • Vanilla extract

Speciality items to consider

Convenience foods that are vegan

This will greatly depend on what’s available to you and where you live in the world, but these are some of my favorite convenience foods:

  • Amy’s non-dairy burritos
  • Gardein vegan meals, nuggets
  • Vegan boxed Mac and cheese – Daiya or Amy’s brand.
  • Daiya frozen pizzas
  • Vegan protein bars, larabars, granola bars
  • Dark chocolate
  • Amy’s canned soups -Some varieties are vegan.
  • Frozen waffles that are vegan
  • Tortilla chips
  • Potato chips, other vegan friendly chips
  • Vegan friendly crackers
  • Veggie sticks
  • Hippeas snacks

Spices and herbs

Basil, oregano, fennel, chili powder, curry powder, cumin, turmeric, garlic and onion powder, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, coriander, cloves, thyme, rosemary, dill, black pepper, garam masala, sumac.
❤️  Nora


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  1. Hi Nora,
    Thank you for the list. There’s just one thing I wanted to point out, green and red Thai curry pastes aren’t vegan because they add fish sauce. Unless it stated vegan.

    1. Thanks for pointing that out! Yes, it’s important to check the ingredients list first to ensure the curry paste is vegan-friendly 🙂

  2. Thank you so much! This is really a big help for me. I really want to start fresh because I have a tendency to reach for foods that are not vegan. Thanks for sharing your recipes. You’re a true inspiration!

  3. Hi Nora,
    Thank you for your great list.
    I have found some jellies to be made with pectin made from bovine, which is from animals, so read labels carefully and maybe research some questionable products such as pure maple syrup because sometimes butter is used to coat the cooking pan to keep it from boiling over and out of the pan.
    Happy shopping!

  4. Hello I enjoyed your list of foods. However it is hard for me to find some of these. Then the next step is how do you prepare a meal. I’m so lost and overwhelmed.

  5. Thank you for this list. I have to say that eating plant based whole foods has opened up a whole new way of cooking and delicious eating for us! We have enjoyed your recipes.
    Don’t forget vegan yogurt! After trying many dairy free yogurts, I recently found Forager cashew milk yogurt. Very clean ingredients and so good! Just had a bowl w raspberries and sliced bananas.

  6. Hi Nora,

    This beginner Vegan grocery list is exactly what I needed! I am a vegetarian trying to go vegan and it is overwhelming as a beginner. I enjoy your website!

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Julie. It’s so great to hear you are finding my website helpful! Welcome, and thank you for your wonderful feedback! Enjoy your journey through my recipes! Please reach out with any questions!

  7. Can you suggest few sugar free vegan coffee creamer? Some of the vegan creamer has so much sugar content.

  8. Hi Nora,

    Please consider branding your beginner vegan grocery list. I’d like to put it up on our Central Coast Vegans website but you deserve the credit.


  9. Thank you for the list. My Grocery has its own bakery. Several of its Artisan breads are vegan (no dairy or eggs in them). Also, have you tried the Herbivorous Butcher shop(web site) in Minneapolis, MN. They ship anywhere in the USA. They make a variety of “ribs” and other fake meat pieces as well as soy based and almond based cheeses. Rochester, MN has three restaurants that serve their products.

  10. Thank you Nora. Love your blog and recipes. My husband has decided to go plant based to lower his cholesterol and we both agreed to a healthier lifestyle. All your recipes have been great! You have made the transition easier for us.

  11. This is excellent! No, surprise, however. Anything, and everything that you post is always perfect. My family is probably starting to get tired of hearing me say your name so many times a day, every day. No worries … I will never get tired of reading your posts and trying your recipes. Keep doing what you’re doing. Nobody does it better. I send you and your family my best wishes for a good, healthy New Year.

    1. Happy New Year to you and your family, Diana! Thank you for your kind and wonderful comments! Thank you for using and trusting my recipes!

  12. This is a great list! I think you’ve laid it all out really well for new vegans ? And your comment about not beating yourself up when you make mistakes is really kind, and key. We all make mistakes when we forget to read ingredients lists, since milk is often found in the oddest things!

    I’m always surprised at the sheer volume of raw cashews and maple syrup I go through (not together) now. I hardly ever purchased either before going vegan.

    1. Thank you Kim! It’s important to be kind to ourselves. You do have to become good at checking those ingredient lists, as you just never know!

  13. You are correct: Your list is a fabulous starting point! Thank you for doing this.

    Some vegetables that I eat regularly — especially in wintertime when they are sweeter — are leafy greens: curly kale, black kale, Russian kale, Swiss chard, beet greens, turnip greens, collard greens, mustard greens. I highly recommend them for their nutrition and because you can chop them up and easily add them to the end of cooking any soup or stew (when cooked in liquid, they lose any strong flavors). An easy way to add veggies to your life!

  14. Since the Co-op I work for also owns and runs a bagel shop, I have learned that bagels do in fact have a tiny amount (about a tablespoon per large batch of dough, and it’s mixed in with the other leavening agents) of dried milk powder in them. Apparently, it affects the way the dough ‘prooves’. Just letting you know, the labels may not say it all.

    1. Good point, I am talking more about store bought bagels, not bakeries, where yes you will need to check with them. They do have to put it on the label though, because some people have life threatening allergies to milk, even in that small of an amount. Bakeries should also be able to answer that question, if nothing else you can say you have a milk allergy and need to know!

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