Sunday, July 21, 2019

Vegan Grocery Shopping: Food Aisles

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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?

Cereal aisle:

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.

Baking:

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!

Condiments:

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.

Chips/Nuts:

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!

8 COMMENTS

  1. Janessa

    Great post!

    A lot of stores, at least in the Portland area, also have a phenomenal bulk foods aisle, with fruits and nuts and beans and dried pastas and soup mixes and dates and coconuts, and…and… lots of truly delicious vegan stuff!

  2. Ivy

    Hi Nat, I have to disagree with you on the bread aisle. The only store I can get bread is Whole Foods. There are no less than 20 ingredients in the breads in the bread aisle at my “traditional” supermarket. For a time, Pepperidge Farm or Arnold (can’t remember which) was offering a bread I could safely eat and offer my children, but a few months ago, they started adding decidedly nonvegan preservatives, fillers, whatever. In the deli, sometimes I can find a pita bread that’s vegan, but the best ones are sold at Whole Foods anyway.

    Maybe your local supermarket offers more in the way of vegan bread, but I’ve heard this from other vegans too.

  3. Nat

    This list might help (although the Peprdige Farm and Arnolds might be outdated now). We’ve found a lot of options… Trader Joes also has a few different safe ones, and Whole Foods – I’ve also found some of the Ezekiel (sp) have been good and in most stores now.
    Sometimes it takes a bit of looking around, but generally I’ve found options in each place we’ve lived – we travel full time so sometimes we’re in more remote places…

    Here is a list I found:

    * Arnold’s Carb-Counting Multi-Grain Bread
    * Arnold’s Jewish Rye Bread
    * Arnold’s Potato Sandwich Rolls
    * Arnold’s Sesame Sandwich Rolls
    * Arnold’s Stone Ground Whole Wheat Bread
    * Arnold’s Wheat Sandwich Rolls
    * Baker’s Inn Hearty Potato with Grain
    * Baker’s Inn Raisin Wheat
    * Cobblestone Mill Hoagie Rolls
    * Cobblestone Mill Jewish Rye Bread
    * Cobblestone Mill Kaiser Rolls
    * Cobblestone Mill Onion Rolls
    * Cobblestone Mill Party Rolls
    * Cobblestone Mill Pumpernickel Bread
    * Cobblestone Mill White Sub Rolls
    * Cobblestone Mill Whole Wheat Bread
    * Dutch Country Soft Potato
    * Dutch Country Whole Wheat
    * Pepperidge Farm Dark Pumpernickel Bread
    * Pepperidge Farm Rye and Pumpernickel Swirl Bread
    * Sunbeam Bread
    * Thomas New York Style Bagels (Blueberry)
    * Thomas New York Style Bagels (Cinnamon Swirl)
    * Thomas New York Style Bagels (Everything)
    * Thomas New York Style Bagels (Plain)
    * Thomas Toaster Bagels (Cinnamon Raisin)
    * Thomas Toaster Bagels (Plain)
    * Weight Watchers Fork Split English Muffins

  4. Ivy

    Really? I hope you’re right, but I know I’ve looked at those brands and breads before and they always seem to have something that doesn’t sound “kosher.” But I will look on my next trip to the grocery store and will report back my findings 😉 Yeah, Ezekiel and similar breads are available everywhere now for the gluten-free crowd, but my kids won’t touch them.

    Speaking of bread, there is a wonderful recipe for pizza dough in Jennifer McCann’s Vegan Lunchbox. It can be made in about two minutes in a food processor and it tastes fantastic, using just a few ingredients. I subbed all white for the whole wheat flour (I know–bad–but I just wanted my vegan daughter to fully enjoy her pizza. She’d like it with wheat, but she LOVED it with white.

  5. Ivy

    Nat, is that the list from the goveg.com website, sponsored by PETA? I think that if a questionable ingredient is far down enough on the list, they include the product anyway. Although Vegan Outreach has a really healthy attitude about not missing the forest for the trees or not getting crazy over every little ingredient, I just can’t do it. I probably am the poster chick for what not to do as a vegan who wants to convert others to veganism.

  6. Nat

    I’d make your own to be the safest. Or go with out the bread all together.
    There are some good ones out there – and of course ordering online from completely vegan places is always an option.

    For me, it’s about getting people to check ingredients first – when someone first goes vegan it might be overwhelming, and knowing there are some choices is always comforting.

    But certainly, everyone can make sure that it’s 100% vegan, the more comfortable someone is the easier it gets. And tastes start changing so that breads that might be more hearty on grains are just something that is tasty (at least that’s what happened with my husband and I)

  7. Ivy

    Yeah, I’ve done that–made my own and gone without. And I love hearty grains, too, but the kids not so much. I used to get white wheat for them, but now I’ll have to make my own. Luckily, King Arthur sells white wheat flour.

  8. Sagan

    I’ve just been making my own bread because I find that the bread aisle (at least in the grocery stores in my city) are mostly full of non-vegan items. Thanks so much for this list though!

    I think you mentioned in a previous post that you like your vegan diet to be mostly real food and also low in fat- do you eat very much in the way of nuts and oils?

Nat
I went on a plant based diet after diabetes almost took my life. Now, almost 2 years later not only have I reduced my type 2 diabetes symptoms, I have lost close to 200 pounds (and still losing). This is a place where I write about my journey as I continue the quest for health, and living a good life for today, and long into the future. Get hold of me on [email protected]

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