Vegan Food Essentials South Africa

Having a kitchen full of versatile and tasty ingredients is your first step to creating fantastic vegan food! Use our list of vegan food essentials to get started.

Don’t feel that you need to rush out and buy everything straight away though. Simply use this as a guide to grow your Veganuary larder. You’ll find all the inspiration you need for cooking with these within our recipe section, and If you’re not sure where to find them then our Product Directory is here to help. Happy cooking!

Several plates of vegan food and dips
Image Credit: Pexels

Dairy Replacements:

Vegan Butter

Supermarkets in the UK offer an array of vegan butter (or ‘spreadable joy,’ as we like to call it). Perfect for your morning toast, cooking and baking, vegan margarine doesn’t disappoint.

  • Flora Vegan Spread
  • Blossom Spread
  • Irene’s Gourmet
  • Green Heart Organics
  • D’lite
  • Fauxmage
  • Miyoko’s Organic Cultured Vegan Butter

Vegan Cheese

Can’t live without cheese? Well, you don’t have to! Cheese may be one of the hardest animal-based products to recreate, but many brands offer amazing dairy-free alternatives to mozzarella, parmesan, cheddar and much more. No vegan food list would be complete without these cheeses.

  • Violife
  • Le Coquin
  • Nature et Moi
  • Irene’s Gourmet
  • Woolworths Dairy Free Range
  • Fauxmage
  • Earth & Co.

Supermarket own label Plant Milks

Embrace the exciting tastes and textures plant-based milks have to offer. There are so many non-dairy options to choose from, so you’re guaranteed to find one you love. Perfect for your morning cuppas, baking endeavours and everything in between, dairy-free milks won’t let you down. Here’s a round-up of our favourite plant milk brands, including soy, rice, almond, oat, hemp and coconut varieties.

  • Alpro
  • Oatly
  • Oh Oat!
  • Good Hope Soy
  • Almond Breeze
  • Rude Health
  • ButtaNutt
  • Earth & Co.
  • ok ja
  • Simple Truth
  • Lifestyle Food
  • Supermarket own label

(Top tip: PG Tips’ Perfect with Dairy-Free tea bags are perfect with vegan milks!)

Oatly milk alongside a coffee. Plant milk is one of the key vegan food essentials to look out for in the supermarket.
Image Credit: AdobeStock

Dairy-Free Yoghurts

We couldn’t leave dairy-free yoghurts out of our vegan food list. Whether you’re looking for a Greek yoghurt alternative for your breakfast or a fruity-flavoured treat, these brands have you covered. Some are based on soya, others coconut, so test them out and see which works for you.

  • Yokos
  • Alpro
  • Supermarket own label
  • Woolworths yoghurt

Vegan Mayonnaise

Some dishes just aren’t complete without a dollop of mayo, right? Thick, creamy and full of flavour, vegan mayonnaise ticks every box. Once you enjoy these delicious animal-free alternatives on your sandwiches and salads, you won’t look back.

  • Hellman’s Vegan Mayo
  • B-Well Range

Vegan Chocolate

Chocoholics rejoice: vegan chocolate has never tasted better. Whether you love decadent dark chocolate or classic milk-infused varieties, there’s a dairy-free chocolate for you. When that sugar craving strikes, here are the brands to look out for.

  • De Villiers Nut Butter Chocolate Bar Selection 
  • The Chocolate Yogi
  • Cocoa Fair
  • Nova (not white chocolate)
  • Mojo Me
  • Orbs
  • Bare
  • Honest Chocolate
  • Beacon TV Bar slab only (chocolate bars contain milk)
  • Lindt Excellence (70% and above slab are milk free)

Dairy-Free Ice Cream

We all deserve an indulgent treat from time to time, which is why dairy-free ice cream has to be on our vegan shopping list. There’s no shortage of sweet treats to help you cool down, whether you’re looking for classic tubs or ice cream bars. Get stuck into these dairy-free delights.

  • Virtue Ice Cream
  • Phat Fox
  • Gaia & I
  • Unframed
  • Kirsten’s Kick ass Ice Cream
  • Lis

Vegan Desserts

Trying vegan food means embracing delicious new flavours. Thanks to the growing range of vegan dessert offerings, it’s never been easier to satisfy your sweet tooth as a vegan. From soft, spongy cakes to devilishly decadent puddings, there’s a dessert to suit everyone. Next time you’re looking for a sweet fix, bite into the many vegan option offered by the brands below: 

  • The Allergen Baker
  • Yum Baker
  • Baking Premixes: Ina Paarman, Outcast Foods and Glutagon.
  • Moro Gelato, certain flavours.
  • Royale Eatery, certain 
  • Dolcé Bakery
  • Grumpy & Runt
  • Vegan by Crumb
  • Thank Goodness Foods
  • Supermarket own label


  • Tofu:
    Extra firm for cooking or silken for sauces and desserts.
  • Clearspring Tofu:
    Delightfully firm, with a natural taste that is sure to make you feel healthier than ever before.
  • Seitan:
    Meat replacement made from wheat gluten – great ‘meaty’ texture.
  • Clearspring Young Jackfruit Chunks:
    The fibrous and meaty texture of this incredible fruit allows you to cook yourself up something with a satisfyingly “meaty”, all without the meat!
  • Peas:
    Garden peas (frozen or canned).
  • Beans:
    (Dried and/or canned) – kidney beans, black beans, pinto beans.
  • Chickpeas:
    These are good as a healthy savoury snack, or sprinkled onto your dinner to add a little 
  • Seeds:
    Sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, chia, flax, hemp etc. Seeds are packed full of good stuff!
  • Nuts:
    Almonds, cashews, walnuts, brazil nuts, pine nuts.
  • Nut butters:
    Peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, hazelnut butter etc.
  • Lentils:
    Puy, red, brown and green – in dry form or packed ready to throw straight into sauces/curries. A wonderful ‘meat’ substitute in Bolognaise, Shepherd’s Pie, Lasagne etc.
  • Miso:
    Traditional Japanese seasoning – eat as a soup or use as a flavouring.
  • Clearspring Miso:
    Use the different flavours in different dishes, to season, flavour and heighten your cooking to the next level.
  • Tamari/ Soy Sauces:
    Tamari is a thicker, less salty, fermented soy sauce with less wheat than soy sauce. 
  • Tempeh:
    Similar to tofu in that it is made from fermented soy beans, but less popular in Western countries. Firmer than tofu with a stronger flavour. Great to marinate.
  • Fry’s:
    All vegan frozen product range, including burgers, sausages, chicken-style strips and nuggets. Try out their gluten free falafels – delicious!
  • Quorn:
    A meat-free alternative made from Mycoprotein. Some of their new products are vegan, check your local supermarket.
  • Linda McCartney:
    A delicious range of meat-free sausages, burgers, and pies (note, not all the products are vegan – read the labels).
  • Urban Vegan:
    Having a braai?  These guys have got you covered. A frozen range of boerewors, cutlets, bacon, patties, balls, ribs – available at select Spar’s and Wellness Warehouse stores.
  • Herbivohr:
    They make vegan biltong, bacon, deli meats, ribs, steak, and have just recently launched their vegan boerewors.  Available online at Pink Piggy Lifestyle, Jackson’s Real Food market.
  • Oh! Poppyseed:
    Even more vegan biltong.  They make droëwors as well. Available from their online store, Wellness Warehouse, online at Pink Piggy Lifestyle, and select other stores.
  • Orgran – Vegan Easy Egg:
    Orgran has cleverly crafted an egg substitute that comes in a box, this great alternative can make scrambled eggs, frittata, omelettes, quiche, and is completely gluten, wheat and meat free!
Tofu curry
Image Credit: AdobeStock

Grains & Dry Ingredients:

Make sure you get plenty of these whole, plant-based foods in your diet.

  • Brown or wild rice:
    More nutritious than white rice.
  • Quinoa:
    Great source of protein. Wash well before cooking.
  • Oats and millet:
    Excellent choices for a hearty breakfast.
  • Whole-wheat couscous:
    Toast it in the pot with some spices before you add water to get that incredible, wholesome couscous taste. 
  • Whole or multi-grain pastas
  • Whole grain / sprouted bread and tortillas
  • Polenta:
    Boil to make traditional polenta. If you have leftovers, cut the cooled polenta into cubes and fry them with a bit of oil to make polenta chips, simple and delicious!
  • Chickpea Flour:
    Used frequently in Indian cooking, this flour is really versatile. You can make pancakes, bhajis and even ‘omelettes’ with it. It is also gluten-free.
  • Noodles:
    The Chinese Kitchen chow mein noodles, Simple Truth gluten free noodles (Checkers), Rice noodles, Soba noodles.
A bowl of oatmeal with nuts
Image Credit: AdobeStock


  • Agar agar:
    Vegan substitute for gelatine.
  • Nutritional yeast:
    A lovely cheesy flavour and can be fortified with B12, although SA brands are not.
  • Vegetable stock:
    (Cubes or powder) Go for the low sodium option.
  • Vegetable bouillon
  • Tomato paste/puree
  • Worcester sauce:
    A great way to add extra flavour to soups and stews (check that it doesn’t contain fish/anchovies – Wellington’s is vegan).
  • Oils:
    Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the best for cooking, but there’s a range of vegetable oils at your disposal – including canola and sunflower.
  • Pizza bases:
    Pick n Pay fresh bases, Woolworths thin & crispy bases, Simple Truth gluten-free bases (Checkers).
Homemade vegan pizza
Image Credit: AdobeStock


  • Egg Replacer:
    a great egg replacer for baking is Orgran No-Egg.
  • Flax seeds:
    (Good source of Omega 3 – can sprinkle on breakfast cereal or smoothie). Can also replace eggs
  • Chia seeds:
    Great replacement for eggs – one chia ‘egg’ equals 1 tablespoon of seed to 2 tablespoons of water.
  • Coconut oil:
    Good for replacing butter.
  • Agave nectar:
    Great honey replacement.
  • Maple syrup:
    Great honey replacement.
  • Blackstrap molasses:
    Fantastic source of iron.
  • Pastry:
    Today brand puff and short crust pastries are vegan, as is Pick n Pay and Checkers’ home brands, as well as Woolworths’ puff pastry.
  • Note:
    South African sugar is vegan, yay!
A selection of pastries
Image Credit: AdobeStock

Condiments & Sauces:

  • Egg-Free Mayonnaise:
    B-Well, Cross & Blackwell Trim, Martinnaise, Taysti.
  • Mustard:
    Most mustard is vegan – Dijon, Hot English, American, etc (Steers mustard is not vegan).
  • Tomato Sauce/Ketchup:
    All Gold, Heinz, Pick n Pay brand, Simple Truth (Checkers), etc.
  • HP Sauce
  • Hot Sauce:
    Tabasco, Sriracha, Sriracha mayo, Fynbos Fine Foods sauces.
  • Wellington’s Sweet & Sour sauce:
    Perfect for stir fries.
A selection of condiments and sauces
Image Credit: AdobeStock


Whether you need an energy boost on the go or a tasty treat, there are plenty of vegan-friendly snacks. You’ll be pleasantly surprised to know that many of the snacks you enjoy are accidentally vegan!

  • There are lots of vegan crisps and popcorn
  • Vegan Biltong and droewors – Earthshine, Herbi Vōhr
  • Sausage rolls and pasties
  • Samosas and bhajis
  • Dried fruit
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Sweets and candies
2 blocks of dark chocolate
Image Credit: Unsplash


Although the healthiest options usually involve cooking for yourself, sometimes we need a quick meal on a busy day! These brands offer healthy or indulgent convenient meals that can be ready in minutes.

  • Pick n Pay
  • Woolworths
  • Checkers -Simple Truth
  • Kauai Ready Meals

Fruits & Vegetables:

  • Kale:
    A vegan superfood (along with other cruciferous vegetables), an excellent source of calcium and other vitamins and minerals.
  • Bell peppers:
    Great raw dipped in hummus or in a stir fry (buy organic when possible).
  • Sweet potato:
    A fantastic source of vitamin A.
  • Mushrooms:
    Get your B vitamins here!
  • Berries:
    Strawberries, blueberries and raspberries (again, buy these organic when possible).
  • Avocados:
    One of the good fats!
Buddha bowl with an array of fruits and vetables
Image Credit: Pexels

Check out how you can use these ingredients!

As vegans, we have to be mindful of what ingredients will act as decent substitute options so that we can still enjoy a fudgy brownie, a crisp cookie, or a fluffy cheesecake.

Check out our vegan baking guide to see how you can use some of these incredible ingredients to make equally incredible treats!

Thinking of trying vegan?

Veganuary inspires and supports people all over the world to try vegan for January and beyond. Millions of people have already taken part.
Will you join them?