If eliminating animal products is new for you, you are likely going to be completely changing your grocery shopping routine! Read on for a categorized plant-based grocery list of healthy, whole-food items you can get at the store.
Of course, you don’t need to buy all of these items at once! They are simply ideas, and you should pick and choose which items to buy each week, based on the meals you plan on making.
- What is a plant-based diet?
- Plant-based grocery list
- Whole grains
- Beans and other legumes
- Vegetables (fresh and frozen)
- Fruits (fresh and frozen)
- Nuts and seeds
- Herbs and spices
- Baking ingredients
- Other foods and ingredients
- What should you drink?
What is a plant-based diet?
Before we take a look at the list, let’s briefly go over what a plant-based diet is…
A plant-based diet is very simply a diet that consists of food that comes from plants! Some people eat a mostly plant-based diet and continue to eat some animal products occasionally. However, a completely 100% plant-based diet eliminates all animal products.
This means no meat of any kind, no dairy, and no eggs. For many people transitioning to a plant-based diet, this seems nearly impossible! But once you get the hang of it, it’s not that difficult.
So, a plant-based diet eliminates animal products, but that alone doesn’t necessarily make it healthy. You can still eat plenty of packaged chips, cookies, and processed vegan meat replacements on a plant-based diet if you so choose.
To get the full health benefits of eliminating animal products, I suggest focusing on a whole-foods plant-based diet. This focuses on unprocessed foods or very minimally processed. What does processed mean? Well-known plant-based doctor, Michael Greger simply explains it as, “nothing bad added, nothing good taken away.”
This means that a whole food can be minimally processed, but still healthy enough for a whole-foods plant-based diet if the processing does not remove anything beneficial or add anything bad.
The items on this plant-based grocery list focus on what you need for a whole-foods plant-based diet. If you make the personal decision to include some processed foods or animal foods from time to time, go ahead and add those items to your list as well.
Suggested read: The 21 best low-carb vegetables
Plant-based grocery list
Note: If you are gluten-free or have any other allergies, sensitivities, or food preferences, you must always check labels and ingredient lists on store-bought foods. The only dietary restriction in this list is that everything is plant-based, so always do your research before purchasing something if you have other dietary restrictions. For example, many whole grains such as oats can be cross-contaminated with gluten, unless labeled as certified gluten-free.
- Brown rice
- Wild rice
- Oats (any kind, with no additives)
- Whole-grain tortillas (oil-free whole wheat or corn, these can be used to make tortilla chips)
- Whole-grain wraps
- Whole-grain pasta (made with 100% whole wheat, brown rice, quinoa, etc.)
- Whole-grain bread
- Rice cakes
Whole grains will make up a large part of your diet if you are eating whole foods plant-based. Ideally, your meals will be half vegetables, one-quarter beans, and one-quarter grains. You should strive for at least 3 servings of whole grains per day.
For a whole-foods plant-based diet, make sure you check the ingredients on grain products to ensure no added oil, sugar, or anything else processed.
Suggested read: A vegan diet guide for diabetes: Is it suitable?
Some of my favorite ways to eat grains are oatmeal for breakfast with some fruit and peanut butter, and as grain bowls. Grain bowls are super easy to make. Just cook up your grain of choice (I like brown rice or quinoa), add some leafy greens and any other vegetables of choice, add some beans, and top it all with salsa or an oil-free dressing!
Beans and other legumes
- Red kidney beans
- Black beans
- Pinto beans
- White kidney beans
- Lentils (any kind)
- Navy beans
Beans are a great source of plant-based protein. They are the main protein source for many people who eat a strict, 100% plant-based diet. Beans are also high in iron, zinc, and fiber. Add beans to your grain bowls or make some oil-free hummus to get at least 3 servings of beans into your daily diet.
You can buy dried or canned beans. If buying canned, make sure there is no added salt. Canned beans are more expensive, but they are great to have for when you want to quickly add beans to a meal.
Vegetables (fresh and frozen)
- Collard greens
- Brussels sprouts
- Mustard Greens
Other non-starchy vegetables
- Green beans
- Tomatoes (tomato is a fruit, but fits better in the vegetable category)
Vegetables should make up a very large part of any healthy diet. You should try to get at least 5 servings of vegetables per day, and it’s best to include leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables.
Cruciferous vegetables are especially nutritious due to their sulforaphane content. Dark leafy greens are high in antioxidants, and you should try having at least two cups per day.
It’s super easy to add some spinach to a fruit smoothie. If you add enough fruit, you won’t even taste the spinach at all!
It’s also easy to add some leafy greens to a grain bowl. If you have a tasty dressing, you will love eating your greens!
If possible, buy organic produce because organic farming practices avoid pesticides and antibiotics. Organic produce also has a higher percentage of antioxidants, but don’t stress if it’s too expensive for you. Non-organic produce is always better than none at all!
Fruits (fresh and frozen)
You should incorporate fruit into your diet every day. 3-4 servings per day is a good goal, and you should try to make at least one of these servings berries. Berries are particularly high in antioxidants, but all fruit is beneficial for your health!
Suggested read: 7 important supplements you need on a vegan diet
Limit juice because it removes fiber and other nutrients. If you like dried fruit, try to find some with no added sugar, or you can make your own with a dehydrator.
An easy way to incorporate fruit into your diet is to add some to your oatmeal, or just chop it up and eat it as a snack. Having apples with peanut butter is also delicious!
It’s always nice to have some frozen fruit at home as well so that you can make some delicious fruit smoothies!
Nuts and seeds
- Brazil nuts
- Sunflower seeds
- Chia seeds
- Hemp seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Nut butter (all-natural, with no added oil or sugar)
Nuts are so versatile and can come in handy when making sauces and dips for a plant-based diet. Cashews are especially great for making creamy dressings.
When purchasing nuts and seeds, it is best to ensure that there is no added sugar, salt, or oil. The same goes for nut kinds of butter.
A simple way to get a serving of nuts into your diet is by adding some peanut butter to oatmeal or having a nut-based dressing on a salad or grain bowl.
Herbs and spices
- Curry powder
- Onion powder
- Garlic powder
- Italian seasoning
- Black pepper
- Chili powder
- Pumpkin pie spice
So many people seem to think that plant-based food is bland. Maybe they aren’t using enough herbs and spices! Herbs and spices add amazing flavors to any dish, and they are also full of nutrition.
Suggested read: Paleo diet: Beginner's guide and meal plan
Add cinnamon to your oatmeal, sprinkle some chili powder on a burrito bowl, add some turmeric to your tofu scramble, the options are endless!
Baking on a plant-based diet will require some different ingredients that you may not be used to using for baked goods. Here are some items that I regularly have in my kitchen for baking:
- Flour (whole wheat, oat, almond, coconut, amaranth, barley, brown rice, quinoa, etc.)
- Cacao powder
- Pure maple syrup or blackstrap molasses
- Date powder
- Baking soda
- Baking powder
- Vanilla extract
- Unsweetened applesauce
Other foods and ingredients
Here is a list of items that don’t necessarily fit into any of the categories above. Many of these items are great for cooking.
- Nut milk (unsweetened)
- Hot sauce
- Vegetable broth (low-sodium, no added oil)
- Canned tomatoes and tomato sauce (no added salt or oil)
- Vinegar (balsamic, apple cider)
- Hummus (oil-free, make your own if you can’t find any!)
- Soy sauce or tamari sauce
- Nutritional yeast
What should you drink?
On a healthy plant-based diet, you should focus on drinking plenty of water, and not much else. You can also incorporate some teas and pure fruit juices, but keep in mind that fiber and other nutrients are lost from fruit when it is juiced, so whole fruits are better than juice!