The Ultimate Plant-Based Grocery List

Updated: Jan. 16, 2023

As a new vegetarian or vegan, food shopping can be tricky. That's why we've created the ultimate plant-based diet grocery list to help you determine what to add to your cart—and what to leave on the shelf.

Beef is not what’s for dinner, at least when you’re following a plant-based diet. This lifestyle cuts out meat, fish and seafood— and in some cases dairy and eggs. In exchange, you’ll enjoy meals rich in fresh produce, whole grains and plant-based protein. Plus, a vegan or vegetarian diet can improve your health, help you get more creative in the kitchen and reduce your carbon footprint—among other incentives.

Ready to make the switch to plant-based? There are a few things you should know before heading to the grocery store. We break down where to shop, what to look for and must-have ingredients for your shopping list.

Where can I buy plant-based foods?

Pretty much any grocery store carries plant-based foods! While you may need to seek out specialty items online or at a health foods store, the bulk of your shopping can be done at Aldi, Kroger, Walmart—you name it. Keep an eye out for a vegetarian section, though. Many shops group meat alternatives, tofu and other vegetarian staples together in the same part of the store. And if you’re struggling to find something, just ask! Grocery store employees should be able to point you in the right direction.

Psst! If you ever feel like skipping the prep, you can also opt for a plant-based meal delivery service.

How do I go grocery shopping on a plant-based diet?

If you’re just starting out on a plant-based journey (or cooking for a vegetarian or vegan), grocery shopping might take a little longer than usual as you sort out what you can, and can’t, add to your cart. The most important step is to read the label—especially on packaged foods. Keep an eye out for ingredients vegetarians should avoid, such as:

  • Rennet: It’s typically found in dairy products, like cheese.
  • Gelatin: In addition to actual Jell-O, gelatin lurks in many cereals, marshmallows, candy and more.
  • Chicken, beef and bone broths: They might be hiding in canned soups or packaged meals.
  • Lard: It’s often found in tortillas and premade pie crusts.
  • Anchovies: These fish are usually in Worcestershire sauce and some salad dressings.

While this list is not exhaustive, it’s a good place to start. And luckily, thanks to today’s technology, if you’re ever unsure about an ingredient a quick Google search will give you an answer.

What groceries should I buy for a plant-based diet?

Plant-based protein sources:

If you’re cutting out meat, you’ll want to stock up on vegetarian-friendly protein sources that will keep you full. Some common ones to look for include:

Psst! Our Test Kitchen found the best veggie burger you can buy.

Dairy and egg alternatives:

Going full vegan? Add these alternatives to your cart:

  • Nutritional yeast
  • Non-dairy milk
  • Plant-based cheese
  • Vegetable shortening or coconut oil
  • Flaxseed, to use in place of eggs in many vegan baking recipes
  • Plant-based egg replacers, which come in liquid or powder form

Fresh produce:

Go wild! Everything in the produce department is fair game for vegetarians and vegans alike. We love:

Pantry items:

Stock up on whole grains, fats, baking staples and—of course—snacks!

  • Grains: Quinoa, brown rice, pasta…there are so many choices
  • Bread: It’s easy to find bread without eggs or dairy, but check the labels or ask at the bakery if you’re not sure. (Or, make your own easy homemade bread!)
  • Jackfruit
  • Vegetable broth
  • Condiments, from ketchup and mustard to spicy salsa
  • Oil
  • Crackers, chips and pretzels: You’ll also want to check the labels here to make sure there aren’t any surprising ingredients.
  • Oatmeal
  • Hummus
  • Nut butters
  • Dried fruit
  • Canned fruits and vegetables.
  • Seeds, like chia seeds and sunflower kernels
  • Spices and seasonings

Top 10 Plant-Based Dinner Recipes
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