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Simply Vegan

The following article was written by former PETA intern Jared Misner.

My plate was full. It was one of those treacherous walks to the outside cookout table where I felt like a banana peel would suddenly appear on the ground and send my overflowing plate flying. Thanksgiving in July, if you will.

A spinach salad with balsamic dressing, smoked potatoes, and a veggie burger piled high with its own buffet of toppings fought for their rightful place on my plate. You can imagine my surprise when a tablemate made the all-too-common remark, “It must be so hard being vegan.”

Judging by the weight of my plate, I obviously wasn’t struggling for food. In fact, I rarely visit specialty health-food stores. I can get by just fine with a weekly trip to the local grocery store to round up all my vegan grub. The next time that you get the verbal vegan sympathy card, be sure to tell your friends how easy veganism is! Check out the following list of great (and cheap!) vegan staple foods that any grocery store is sure to carry:

  • Beans: From black beans to kidney beans to garbanzo beans and every kind of bean in between, any grocery store stocks shelf upon shelf of these protein powerhouses.
  • Rice: Brown rice is one of my favorite foods. Luckily, any store in town probably carries this whole-grain darling. Pair the rice with a tortilla and some salsa and you have a Mexican feast in the making! If you have a taste for a more exotic rice, most supermarkets probably have jasmine rice or basmati rice in stock as well.
  • Tofu and tempeh: Growing in popularity, these soy-based sweethearts can usually be found in your supermarket’s produce section.
  • Fruits and vegetables: I feel silly even mentioning these, but I’ve turned my grocer’s supermarket stand into my own personal playland. My shopping cart is pretty much full after perusing just this one section of the store.
  • Spices: Curries, cumin, rosemary, basil—what’s not to like here?
  • A baker’s paradise: If I’m not working or at school, I’m probably baking. Whole-wheat flour, vegan chocolate chips, sweetener, walnuts, soy milk, and cocoa powder are never in short supply in my kitchen. To make your favorite baked goods vegan, simply substitute each egg in the recipe with three tablespoons of unsweetened applesauce!
  • Breads and pastas: I love a great, hearty whole-grain bread. There’s something that just feels right in the world when you’re holding a thick piece of crusty bread. A lot of breads are vegan, but watch out for any stray milk in the mix. And last, but certainly not least, the pasta aisle should become your new best friend. Steer clear of egg noodles, and you’ll be on your way to wining and dining the night away.

Of course, if I listed all the wonderful foods that every grocery store carries, I’d be writing all day. Did I forget any of your favorite vegan must-have foods you buy at the supermarket? Let me know in a comment below!

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  • chander kumar soni says:

    i love vegan.

  • Melissa says:

    Glad tempeh was mentioned! Its absolutely delish with some cumin, and seasalt lightly sauteed in grapeseed.oil<3
    And tempeh burgers are so satisfying!

  • Tia says:

    I’m noticing more stores carry veggie broth, which is great for cooking and can often be substituted for oils. I opt for sweet potatoes over white potatoes, and I’ve recently discovered Jackfruit. It can be used as a meat replacement without the highly processed nature of tofu or TVP.

  • Kim says:

    I would love to become vegan, but am allergic to all soy products. Some beans give me allergy issues as well. Any suggestions?

  • Millergirl says:

    I think this article just shows how easy it is to be vegan when,it seems to me everyone wants to make it so hard. I do think eating out is hard, especially when everyone in the crowd is not vegan.

  • Terri says:

    I shop at Whole Foods Market which is very vegan-friendly but also like to pick up even vegan burgers, vegan chik patties, and vegan tv dinners among other items as well as Silk Almond milk at Wal-Mart. At Kroger, they sell a lot of vegan items as well as hazelnut milk and coconut milk. You can’t beat Whole Foods and Kroger for produce.

  • Susan says:

    We are vegan and we LOVE Chung’s all natural vegetable spring rolls. We get them in the frozen section at Von’s and Winco, but they are probably carried in other stores too. Seriously, you have to try them.

    http://www.chungsfoods.com/Products/products.html

  • Abhishek says:

    controlling mind is so easy by a light diet which is only in the form of vegan only on this earth.

  • Shelby says:

    I personally eat alot of bok choy steamed in soy sauce! Its a great tasting and healthy snack!

  • Suzie says:

    We eat hummus for a quick meal i also make sure i have salsa on hand. For a sweet treat, We like unsweetened
    applesauce, frozen berries or cereal
    with almond milk

  • Michelle says:

    I’m a gluten-free vegan! It’s the gluten-free that can be hard- not the vegan part! One of my favourites is quinoa and buckwheat. I make all sorts of yummy treats. Eating “raw” helps a lot, too- the desserts are almost always gluten-free, healthy and SO tasty. It’s easy!
    I really disagree with promoting faux meats and TVP. It’s better to just eat the whole foods, and save the faux hot dogs and faux burgers for treat times.
    Eating vegan really is THAT easy!
    Ananda.. if you need help, send me an email! It’s really very easy though. There are many gluten-free vegan bloggers out there. Just educate yourself and stick to whole foods and you’ll be fine!

    My staples~ fruits and veggies, chickpeas, black beans, edamame, brown rice, QUINOA, buckwheat (for hot cereal, replacing oats as I cannot eat them), vegan sushi, and almond milk. EASY! :)

  • Sassinak says:

    Hey Jared. I agree that becoming vegan is easy for people with no dietary issues. In some cases it’s even the solution to some dietary issues. However, out of your example list of foods above I can only eat the Tofu, Fruits, and vegetables as my dietary problems require me to stay away from wheat, starches, beans and root vegetables, the core energy providers of a vegan diet. I’m glad it works for you but a vegan diet is still financially unavailable to those of us that can’t digest the “energy foods” and would have to rely on supplements and expensive substitutions.

  • Brittany says:

    I couldn’t like without my “chicken” nuggets! I love to warm them up and throw them on a salad I eat about 2 or three of those salads a week. One box of nuggets lasts about 4 salads. Its great! I also love buying the organic broths and soups and heating them up with a slice of bread yum!

  • Jessika says:

    My bf will sometimes go to this Asian store and bring home a lot of stuff like vegetarian duck meat and vegetarian mongoose meat and I love that stuff. I’m not vegan but I started to eat more vegan meals and they are pretty good. I’m glad wal-mart started selling vegan hot dogs and the vegan cheese. Every time my parents go to Sam’s Club they will bring home a huge box of boca burgers. I love boca burgers.

  • Linda says:

    The comments that non vegans/vegetarians make aout vegan/vegetarian are quite tedious. “So what do you eat?” they ask when their diets’ oscilate between beef, pork, lamb, chicken, and fish/seafood and then back again with maybe a few variations such as duck, turkey or kangaroo thrown in, in between. People at work often marvle at my lunches which are really quite simple but they think I go to a lot of trouble. I make up a salads, baked veggies, soups, curries and filo pies and jsut add other things to go with the dish like bean patties, tofu and sauces with saldas and veggies, grains such as rice/quinoa, steamed veggies,and beans wiht soups and so on. I make a batch of something and freeze it in individual servings so I always have something on hand. All I then have to do is add the extras and I’m done. It’s so easy and I don’t have to spend a lot of time cooking every day. There is so much variety its never boring. There’s always a new dish to make or a new product to try.

  • Katelyn says:

    My local Asian market is my own personal playground of experimentation. They carry so many soy products and exoctic vegetables, I can have a lot of fun whipping up some unique foods! (Not to mention the prices are incredibly inexpensive). Other than that, I find that Foodlion and Lowes Foods are good places to shop for my vegan food. Walmart doesn’t have such a plentiful stock (they don’t really have much stock of anything to be honest), so I usually avoid going there. Local farmer’s markets (just google for local markets) also carry a plethora of veggie-goodness, and it’s a good place to pick up new vegetable recipes to try.

  • Alan says:

    Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) is such a versatile staple of the vegan pantry. Made in different sizes it can be substituted for meat in most any recipe.

  • Soheil says:

    Awesome! There’s only one way of living . Veganism

  • Joe says:

    @Amanda: I have a vegan gluten-free friend. You should be able to eat everything above, except the bread and pastas. I’m not sure about bread, but there is such thing as rice noodles. I’ve heard of buckwheat as an alternative in baking.

  • kathy says:

    @Amanda, try quinoa and other gluten-free grains. I have a feeling my tastes may be a little out of the mainstream even for vegans, but I love to have a green smoothie for lunch. There are many different recipes but I love frozen fruit/spinach or other greens/banana/powdered spirulina. (I think most vegans don’t eat the way I do, so if what I write sounds gross there are many other options.) I also grow my own sprouts indoors which have a lot of protein. Sprouted lentils are great for adding to salads and broccoli sprouts are spicy and full of antioxidants. Once you start exploring, you’ll find what you like and the options will seem endless. That has been my experience.

  • Richy says:

    Hey, I know for sure that WalMart carries some gluten free products such as pastas and beans.
    I personally, prefer to go to SunHarvest because they have more of a variety on gluten free products and vegan food.
    I know that some Bistro burgers made my Amy’s are non-dairy, gluten free, and vegan so you might want to check that out.

  • Maria says:

    @Ananda: Hi there! There are a lot of vegans who are also gluten free! Check out this webpage – http://xgfx.org/ – (“We decided to put together this site as a resource for our vegan friends that need (or just want) to remove gluten from their diet, and to welcome gluten-free folks who want to try out some vegan eats. While there are plenty of great resources out there for vegans, and many for the gluten-free crowd, there seem to be very few for folks like us who dwell in both camps.”). It has a lot of recepies! I hope it helps you!

  • Milania says:

    Good article. Just recently became vegan and am surprised at just how easy it is. I was vegetarian about twenty years ago and am noticing how much more available vegan offerings are now compared to then. With books like Vegan with a Vengeance you can still make recipes that are sinlessly delicious and make meat and dairy eaters envious!

  • Milania says:

    Good article. Just recently became vegan and am surprised at just how easy it is. I was vegetarian about twenty years ago and am noticing how much more available vegan offerings are now compared to then. With books like Vegan with a Vengeance you can still make recipes that are sinlessly delicious and make meat and dairy eaters envious!

  • April says:

    For the gluten free – anything you can make with gluten, you can make gluten free. Pasta, baked goods, waffles – we are so lucky to live in a time where gluten free is plentiful. I love quinoa pasta and gluten free waffles – mmmm!

  • April says:

    For the gluten free – anything you can make with gluten, you can make gluten free. Pasta, baked goods, waffles – we are so lucky to live in a time where gluten free is plentiful. I love quinoa pasta and gluten free waffles – mmmm!

  • jen says:

    When people say ‘it must be hard to be vegan’ I reply ‘it must be hard to be a murderer.’

  • Pedro says:

    Ananda, instead of bread and pasta you can eat corn, rice, potatoes, chestnuts, soy and so on, those are gluten-free. And you can find gluten-free bread/pasta.

  • Ananda says:

    Do you know of any vegans who are also gluten free? If I can’t eat any wheat based food, what is left when you eat no animal buy-products? :( Anyway, interesting article, thanks

  • Abby says:

    My local grocery store has started carrying dairy-free ice cream.

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