When you first make the choice to ‘go vegan,’ grocery shopping can be a little different. The good news is that choosing vegan foods at your local grocery store has never been easier, tastier or more fun! There are heaps of new vegan-friendly foods to try, and innovative products are regularly being released. Here are a few helpful hacks to master your first vegan shop like a seasoned pro:
1. Download the Vegan Starter Kit
As part of the Million Dollar Vegan campaign, we’ve put together a comprehensive Vegan Starter Kit which includes plenty of delicious meal ideas, details about where to buy vegan food products, tantalizing recipe sites to check out, and valuable notes on nutrition.
Keep your Vegan Starter Kit handy (save shopping lists onto your smartphone, or print a copy to keep with your reusable grocery bags), so you can refer to it at the store. You’ll never be short of inspiration or information by staying connected with the Million Dollar Vegan campaign via Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.Get the Vegan Starter Kit
2. Use trusted apps
There are tonnes of helpful smartphone apps that will make your first vegan shop an adventure! Apps like “Is It Vegan?” will allow you to scan product barcodes to check for meat, egg or dairy ingredients; whilst the “Animal-Free” app provides a database of animal-derived ingredients. If you’re shopping for cosmetics or personal care products, “Bunny Free” also helps you identify companies that may test on animals.
3. Prepare a grocery list
It may sound simple, but preparing a grocery list before you head to the store will help you feel organized, motivated and well-equipped. Pre-plan your meals for the week ahead, so you know which fresh produce items and pre-packaged products you may need. Having a grocery list will also save you time and money, so you’re not wandering among the shelves feeling overwhelmed.
4. Stock up on staples
Having a well-stocked fridge or pantry will help ensure your transition to a vegan diet is simple and enjoyable. Shop for staples that you can snack on between meals, including nuts, seeds, crackers and hummus. Consider buying a bulk amount of canned goods that will help form a wholesome and versatile base for many meals; such as chickpeas, lentils and beans. Grains such as rice, oats and quinoa will also prove useful, no matter what you’re planning to create in the kitchen!
5. Eat the rainbow
If there’s one way to determine whether your grocery shop involves a wide variety of nutrients, it’s to eat the rainbow! Fresh fruit and vegetables of different colors serve different purposes and help maintain your health and wellness.
For example, red fruits and vegetables contain a natural plant pigment called ‘lycopene,’ which is a powerful antioxidant known to support heart health and reduce cancer risks. Purple and blue fruits and vegetables contain ‘anthocyanin’, an antioxidant that can prevent cell damage, stroke and even heart disease. Green vegetables contain an abundant array of nutrients, with recognized anti-cancer properties. Brown and white fresh produce contains great amounts of potassium.
Source: Nutrition Australia
6. Check out the catalogs
Grocery stores around the world are heavily invested in boosting their current line-up of vegan food products. Browse grocery catalogs to find out about upcoming vegan product launches, and to discover unique home cooking ideas. Many catalogs will also offer specials and discounts when a new vegan product initially arrives in store. What a time to be alive!
7. Recreate old favorites
When you embark on your first vegan grocery shop, think about the type of meals you already prepare at home. All your favorite foods can be ‘veganized’ with just a bit of research and panache. There are now vegan equivalents of almost every product. You may wish to ensure your grocery cart includes cooking products such as olive oil, herbs and spices and baking products such as flour or plant-based milks. These pantry essentials will make ‘veganizing’ your favorite family recipes a simple and enjoyable experience.
8. Save your leftovers
Make sure you’ve got plenty of containers at home to store leftover food. Containers that can be frozen or reheated are extremely handy to have when you first ‘go vegan’, and begin experimenting with new recipe ideas. Where possible, avoid buying disposable plastic containers and opt for reusable options (made from metal or glass).
9. Involve your family
For many of us, cooking with family is one of life’s most precious pastimes. When you make the choice to go vegan (regardless of whether your family chooses the same), invite them along on your journey. Swap recipe ideas, take photos of your favorite meals and ask your loved ones to sample new vegan-friendly dishes. Involving your family with a vegan grocery shop also creates a shared experience, that can be enriching and empowering for everyone.
10. Most importantly, have fun!
Discovering the world of vegan cuisine is joyful and rewarding! Your first vegan grocery shop may seem a little daunting at first, but start with the basics (the fruit and vegetable section is your friend) and you’re unlikely to get side-tracked.
Remember, if you do make a mistake and accidentally purchase non-vegan ingredients, it’s okay. Note down the product details, and look for a tasty alternative next time. Veganism isn’t about perfection; it’s about doing the best we can to live healthier, happier and kinder lives every day!
Do you have any more great vegan shopping hacks? Share your thoughts in the comments below – we’d love to hear from you!