If you’ve been lurking in the depths of the backs of grocery stores, you might not know that there are aisles filled with vegan foods. TONS of stuff. But if you head straight to the dairy aisle, the meat section or some of the other unhealthy parts of the store, you might not even notice there is a great big vegan section in each store.
The produce aisle:
There is so much goodness lurking in your produce aisle, and if you have been in the nether regions of the grocery store, you might not even know that such goodness exists. There are like 20 different kinds of peppers. Not until recently did I realize that I could buy orange, yellow, red, green, and then all the cute little ones that really pack a punch when trying to spice things up. And next to the peppers, maybe you’ll find the tons of mushrooms, ones that are so meaty and delicious you will kick yourself for not knowing how to make them and use them before. You will start to see squash, and you will start to see it as a substitute for pasta (if you want).
There are approximately 400 different completely vegan things in the produce aisle alone (in a typical grocery store) and that’s not including when they include some other things like:
Tofu – most stores have lots of different variety of tofu. And if you say “I don’t like tofu” and you’ve only had tofu plain, I’m going to smack you. Eating plain tofu (to me) is like biting into a plain uncooked potato, and then claiming you don’t like it. I would take a guess that there are over 1000 things you can do with tofu, all completely different. Want to make a chocolate cherry pie? Great! Tofu is your answer. Want to have a hearty breakfast scramble with sausage and cheesy sauce? Tofu.
The ‘ethnic’ aisles:
Go to town with things like Nori, different rices, rice noodles, falafel mix, some sauces… These aisles have plenty of vegan options that are waiting for you to explore! Check labels, but often it will be obvious what is ‘safe’ and what is not.
The Italian aisle:
What? It’s not called the Italian aisle? The place where pasta is! MOST like 95% of the pasta in this aisle is vegan. And with choices like brown rice and whole grain, you can even be extra healthy about your choice! And then there is tomato sauce – now some people will try to RUIN a good pasta sauce with decaying meat and rotting dairy, but you can find some awesome veggie or plain sauces out there, just be sure to read the label and then smile because you can be Italian and vegan, and with all those fresh veggies you just bought you can make a fantastic big pasta dinner. *Also look for sundried tomato – YUM. DOUBLE YUM actually.
The rice/beans/salsa aisle:
I have yet to find a salsa that isn’t vegan. And there about a BILLION salsa choices. With the tortilla chips sometimes you have to watch because, again, people like to RUIN tortillas or tortilla chips with things like whey, milk powder or the worst – LARD?! So watch, but there are some great choices in this aisle. Look for vegetarian beans, packages of beans (dry) rice. taco shells, corn tortillas, tortillas with out lard or dairy products. Once you start looking you’ll find so many options you might even be happier than you were in the Italian aisle.
The frozen aisle:
Frozen fruits and veggies, Amy’s frozen meals (they have a lot of vegan options) also check for vegan burgers, nuggets and other frozen things because there are a lot… and most grocery stores carry at least one vegan option for ice cream. Look for coconut milk, soy, rice, hemp milk ice creams.
The bread aisle:
There are plenty of options – but yes, you do have to watch for people who like to ruin bread products with fillers like egg or dairy (ick). But you will be surprised what you can find and how much of it there is.
Beer and other things that make you tipsy.
Yes, there is non vegan beer and wine (ick). But you can check out barnivore.com and double check, there are a TON of options, so no worries, you can still get your drink on (if you’d like to RESPONSIBLY of course)
Crackers, cookies OH MY.
Yep, there are plenty of vegan options in the cracker and cookie aisle. I’m not saying they are all healthy, but A LOT of the things in this aisle are vegan. Like Oreo’s and other sandwich cookies. OOOPS did I say that out loud?
Check labels (as always) but A LOT of cereal is completely vegan. And lets not forget all of those Oatmeals and hot rice cereals! Sometimes these aisles also include the selection of real and better for you milk … like rice, soy, almond, hemp, hazelnut. More and more grocery stores are carrying a lot of better milks, go wild.
Some of those mixes, can easily be made vegan. Check the dry ingredients, and then use alternatives for things like butter, milk or eggs. Pancake mixes, brownie mixes, cookie mixes, corn bread mixes – all grocery stores have some that don’t include dairy or eggs in the dry ingredients. And trust me, using applesauce instead of egg is always a winner, and always tastes better, and doesn’t come with disease on your counter tops! Win, Win!
Also, nuts, some of the pie crusts and fillings, dark chocolate chips, cocoa powder (the good ones with out the junk), oils, vinegar…. there are more vegan options in this aisle than there are non vegan options… because let’s go ahead and add in SPICES. Most of those – completely vegan as well!
Stay away from the mayo – but go check for mayo betterness in the produce aisle, or wherever the faux meats are… look for miso mayo or Veganaise there. But, most ketchup, mustard, some of the sauces, dressings are vegan. Again, check, but you will find lots of options in this aisle as well.
Again (on the chips part) not always healthy, but in my research yesterday there are A LOT of vegan options for chips in this aisle. And then there are nuts, of course if you want to be healthy go for the unsalted or lightly salted, but nuts? Vegan.
I could go on for a while. But hopefully you get the point. There are tons of options in your regular grocery store. And yes, if you venture off to a more specialty store you will find even more wonderful options! And if you are SO lucky to live in Portland you can go to Food Fight grocery and just have a field day, because every thing you pick off the shelf is vegan! You can also order from them online http://store.foodfightgrocery.com/. Speaking of… there are a lot of online places you can order some great vegan grocery items, so even if you can’t get to a grocery store, or the only grocery store in town is called “rotting flesh market” you can always get online and put your order in for some great vegan eats.
And… PLEASE get to your local farmers market! If you have one, go support it and get your produce from them!
So go on, get shopping! Don’t be afraid of your grocery store…
*Vegans, I know I left out a lot – like the pickle aisle – please offer your suggestions and advice in regards to the grocery store in the comments!