A vegan buying guide for beginners

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Whether you have already decided on a vegan diet or are thinking about it, this buying guide will make it easier for you to get all the necessary nutrients from plant-based foods. The list of vegan-friendly foods is long and makes it easy to say goodbye to dairy products, eggs, meat, and fish.

Grocery shopping for vegans can still be a chore, according to Women’s Health Magazine, although there are several vegan-friendly products available in most grocery stores. To keep it simple: avoid processed foods.

Nutritionist Shanthi Appelö of Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan told Women’s Health:

The more processed a food is, the more time vegans have to spend reading the labels to identify ingredients that could be of animal origin. Even foods that look vegan may not be.

(Photo credit: Syda Productions / Shutterstock)

Plus, it’s expensive to fill the cart with all of the processed vegan foods. While ready-made meals are more convenient for people with busy schedules, home-cooked meals are much healthier and significantly cheaper.

Here’s a must-have vegan shopping list that will make sure you are eating everything you need on the food pyramid and you can customize it to suit your tastes and budget.

Vegetable proteins

Proteins are an important part of a healthy diet because they contain amino acids that help maintain your immune function and carry nutrients. Vegans need three servings of legumes (beans, lentils, and peas) a day to get the essential amino acid lysine. In addition, legumes are a great source of iron that other vegetable proteins lack.

legumes
Legumes. (Image credit: Piyaset / Shutterstock)

Here’s a tip: Eating legumes with vegetables rich in vitamin C will increase iron absorption. Some vegetables rich in vitamin C include peppers, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, thyme, cockatoo plums, and camu camu.

Tofu and other minimally processed meat alternatives such as tempeh made from fermented soybeans or seitan made from gluten are also suitable as a substitute for eggs and meat and are excellent sources of protein. Algae and algae also contain a lot of protein, which makes vegan sushi a healthy meal. In addition, nuts and nut butters contain protein and offer other health benefits.

Cereals and cereals

A healthy vegan diet includes whole grains, grains, and pseudo-grains as they are good sources of complex carbohydrates, iron, fiber, B vitamins, and minerals. However, some are better than others. For example, spelled contains three times more selenium than teff and both have 10-11 grams of protein, while pseudograins like amaranth and quinoa come very close with 8-9 grams of protein. When buying rice, avoid white and stick with brown or purple rice and buy whole wheat pasta instead of white.

full grain
Full grain. (Photo credit: wideonet / Shutterstock)

fruit

Fruits are filled with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. It is better to eat fruits (and vegetables) in season because they are tastier and more nutritious because the fruits are not processed or preserved.

Some of the best fruits are:

  • Strawberries, blueberries, cranberries or other berries,
  • Citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit, pomelos, lemons and limes,
  • Avocados, bananas, apples,
  • And exotic fruits like dragon fruit or jackfruit.
A vegan buying guide for beginners
(Photo credit: Lecic / Shutterstock)

vegetables

Vegetables are packed with vitamins and minerals and play one protective role against many chronic diseases. A diet high in vegetables and fruits is linked to several health benefits. A systematic review of meta-analyzes from 2019, for example, showed that increased vegetable intake could significantly reduce the risk of developing various common diseases.

A higher vegetable consumption compared to a lower one was associated with:

  • 12% fewer strokes
  • A 14 percent decrease in coronary artery disease
  • An 11% reduction in metabolic syndrome
  • A 13% decrease in all-cause mortality
A vegan buying guide for beginners
(Image: George Dolgikh / Shutterstock)

Since there are so many different types of vegetables, the best way to get all of the nutrients your body needs is to eat vegetables of all color groups: green, red, yellow, orange, purple, and white.

  • green: Kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, spinach, bean sprouts, zucchini and arugula. The darker the green, the more iron, protein, and minerals it contains. In addition, dark green leafy vegetables act as antioxidants in the body.
  • Red: Tomatoes, onions, radishes, beets and peppers.
  • Yellow: peppers, pumpkin, zucchini
  • orange: Carrots, pumpkin and sweet potatoes. The more the orange color, the more beta-carotene it contains.
  • violet: Eggplant, cabbage and the purple varieties of sweet potatoes, carrots, beets and radishes.
  • White: Cauliflower, onion and garlic.

Oils and fats

Women’s Health recommends including healthy fats and oils in your daily diet as they help include fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K. Avoid palm oil when cooking and use coconut, olive, avocado, walnut, or soybean oils instead. You can also benefit from healthy oils by eating olives, nuts, nut butters, and nutritious seeds.

oil
(Image credit: HQuality / Shutterstock)

Nuts and seeds

Nuts contain healthy oils and proteins. Almonds and walnuts in particular have anti-inflammatory properties and are great for lowering cholesterol. The best seeds to eat are hemp, chia, and flax. They contain the highest protein content in the semen category and are filled with healthy fatty acids like omega-3 and are packed with other benefits.

You can bake with nuts and seeds, sprinkle them over salads, oatmeal, granola, vegan yogurts, and smoothies. You can also make spreads to dip carrots or celery in or to spread on whole grain bread.

nuts
(Photo credit: Vitalyi Mazur / Shutterstock)

Healthy snacks and treats

There are many delicious vegan snacks available, including:

  • Dried fruits such as figs, dates and cranberries;
  • Popcorn kernels (pop your own in vegan butter or coconut oil);
  • Nuts and seeds;
  • Dark chocolate (which is full of health benefits.)
A vegan buying guide for beginners
(Photo credit: Prostock-Studio / Shutterstock)

Vegan dairy products

Corresponding Health line, Vegans can replace dairy products with plant-based milk and yogurt fortified with calcium. There is a wide selection of milk substitutes made from soy, rice, oats, almonds, pistachios, walnuts and coconut in any supermarket or store on-line. Vegan cheeses are also becoming easier to find, and there are many vegan and dairy-free ice creams.

A vegan buying guide for beginners
(Image: Tatjana Baibakova / Shutterstock)

Vegan ice cream

Corresponding Go Dairy Free, ten years ago there were very few dairy-free options for vegan or lactose intolerant people. Today there are several vegan ice cream flavors to choose from in health food stores or supermarkets.

When summer comes and you’re in the mood for ice cream, here are seven of the many great selections of dairy-free ice creams made from almonds, coconut, oats or soy. They come in many flavors and come in spoonable pints, sandwiches, and bars.

Häagen Dazs

This indulgent ice cream maker started out with just three flavors when the company opened in 1976. Now, Häagen Dazs has over 50 flavors including a unique dairy-free line of pints and bars with delicious flavors like Amaretto Black Cherry Almond Toffee, Chocolate Fudge, Coconut Caramel, Mango Sorbet.

According to Go Dairy Free, each taste is individually adapted instead of using a coconut or almond base for all varieties. After all, all Häagen-Dazs flavors are vegan, gluten-free and soy-free. However, if you’re on a tight budget, it’s more expensive than other ice cream brands.

Häagen Dazs
(Image: Häagen-Dazs)

Tofutti

Tofutti exists since 1981 and is one of the first brands to manufacture soy-based dairy-free ice cream substitutes. It uses GMO-free soy and RSPO-certified palm oil, is egg-free and vegan. There are six delicious flavors in pints, sandwiches, and bars. But Tofutti doesn’t just make ice cream; It also has a range of sour cream, cheese, and soy-based dips.

Tofutti
(Image credit: Tofutti)

So delicious

MindBodyGreen describes this ice cream as the ultimate dairy-free treat for coconut lovers. The brand uses coconut milk as a base, which makes it particularly creamy and aromatic. Additionally, So delicious has frozen almond milk and oat milk based treats. That’s not all, there are also sugar-free varieties, so there is something for everyone.

So delicious
(Credit: So Delicious)

Planet oats

This dairy-free dessert is made from oat milk and coconut oil. Planet oats is available in eight delicious flavors including Blueberry Oat Crumble, Coffee Fudge Swirl, and Cookies & Crème. Planet Oat, however, is best known for its coffee creamer and oat milk.

Planet oats
(Credit: Planet Oats)

Daiya

Daiya is a Canadian brand better known for its vegan cheese line, but also makes dairy-free ice cream bars, according to MBG. There are four delicious flavors including Espresso Coffee and Salted Caramel Swirl. Daiya products do not contain dairy products, eggs, gluten, soy, peanuts and fish and are therefore ideal for allergy sufferers.

Daiya
(Image credit: Daiya)

Breyers

Breyers Dairy-free ice cream comes in four classic flavors and is easily available in grocery stores. All four flavors are made with almond milk instead of cream and are soy and gluten free with the exception of Oreos Cookies & Cream. Additionally, the ice cream is available in 1.5 quart cups, making it an economical choice for those who are lactose intolerant or vegan.

Breyers
(Image credit: Breyers)

O’My Gelato

O’My Gelato is a rich vegan ice cream without dairy products that has a whipped texture and tastes almost like homemade. Nine popular flavors are available, including strawberry and cake batter, which are free from dairy, gluten, soy, peanuts, or pea protein.

A vegan buying guide for beginners
(Credit: O’My Gelato)

Other dairy-free, vegan ice creams include Ben & Jerry’s, Cado Avocado Frozen Dessert, Indulge in Non-Dairy Frozen Desserts, Chloes Oat Milk Raspberry Chip Pops, Coconut Bliss Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert, Van Leeuwen Vegan Salted Caramel, Almond Dream Non-Dairy Frozen dessert, Steve’s non-dairy ice cream, Modern pop mint chip, and the list continues!

Now that you know so many different types of vegan-friendly foods and desserts, there is no reason why you shouldn’t switch to a vegan diet, at least if you are considering it. To discover even more plant-based foods, check out Vegan.io’s complete vegan shopping list. Bon Appetit!

Cado ice cream
(Image credit: Cado)


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