Vegan Food Essentials

Having a kitchen full of versatile and tasty ingredients is your first step to creating fantastic vegan food. We’ve compiled a go-to vegan shopping list, including all the essentials to help you on your Veganuary journey.

Don’t feel that you need to rush out and buy everything from our list of vegan staples, though. Simply use this as a guide to grow your Veganuary larder. You’ll find all the inspiration you need for cooking your new vegan-friendly finds in our Recipe section. Happy cooking!

DAIRY REPLACEMENTS

Dairy alternatives are some of the most important vegan food essentials. But moving on from dairy doesn’t mean leaving your favourite foods behind. From plant-based butters you won’t believe are vegan to creamy milks for your coffee, there are plenty of dairy replacements available.

Vegan Butters

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 Dairy-Free Spreads (please note that the Flora Buttery product is no longer vegan)
  • Pure Sunflower/Soya
  • Suma
  • Vitalite
  • Biona
  • Naturli
Naturli organic vegan butter, a perfect dairy alternative for baking
Image Credit: Naturli

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
  • Follow Your Heart
  • Vegusto
  • Tofutti
  • Bute Island Sheese
  • Kinda Co.
  • Tyne Cheese
  • New Roots
  • VBites
  • Koko
  • Supermarket own label
Koko's range of dairy-free cheese. Non-dairy cheese is one of our top vegan food essentials.
Image Credit: Koko

Plant Milks

Embrace the exciting tastes and textures plant-based milks have to offer. There are so many non-dairy options 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
  • Plenish
  • Koko Dairy Free
  • Provamel
  • Good Hemp
  • Innocent
  • Califia
  • Supermarket own label

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

A carton of Alpro cashew milk - an essential item on any vegan shopping list.
Image Credit: Alpro

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.

  • Rebel Kitchen
  • COYO
  • Alpro
  • Koko Dairy Free
  • Provamel
  • The Coconut Collaborative
  • Nush
  • Supermarket own label
Tub of Coyo dairy-free yoghurt - an essential vegan food we couldn't live without
Image Credit: Coyo

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.

  • Rubies in the Rubble
  • Follow Your Heart
  • Granovita
  • Plamil
  • Hellman’s Vegan Mayo
Jar of vegan Helmann's mayo, a vegan cupboard staple
Image Credit: Hellmann’s

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.

  • Booja Booja
  • MiiRO
  • NOMO
  • Vego
  • Ombar
  • LoveRaw
  • i-Choc
  • Moo Free
  • Plamil So Free
  • Doisy & Dam vegan range
  • Montezuma’s vegan range
  • Galaxy vegan range
A flatlay of 5 Nomo vegan chocolate bars. Dairy-free chocolate is an essential shopping item.
Image Credit: Nomo

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.

  • Northern Bloc
  • Alpro
  • Swedish Glace
  • Ben & Jerry’s
  • Magnum
  • Almond Dream
  • Yorica!
  • ROAR
Ben & Jerry's non-dairy ice cream flavours
Image Credit: Ben & Jerry’s

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 stocking up on vegan food essentials, sink your spoon into these plant-based desserts.

  • Coconut Collaborative
  • Freaks of Nature
  • Wicked Kitchen
  • BOSH!
  • Alpro
  • Supermarket own label
Gü Puds alongside a bar of chocolate
Image Credit: Noble Foods/GÜ

Vegan Protein

Protein is a hot topic when it comes to going vegan, but there’s no need to worry. Most foods contain some protein and there’s so much choice when it comes to tasty sources of vegan protein. You shouldn’t struggle to get enough protein on a vegan diet, but you may struggle to choose from all the fantastic products on offer! Whether you’re looking for whole, plant-based sources or meat alternatives, there’s no shortage of protein-packed foods available.

Meat Alternatives

We can’t keep up with the ever-growing range of meat substitutes, but we’ll give it a go. These products typically use seitan or soya as their base.

  • Quorn (not all Quorn products are vegan – check the label)
  • Cauldron
  • Meatless Farm Co.
  • Oumph!
  • Tofurky
  • Gardein
  • Fry’s
  • Linda McCartney
  • Granose
  • VBites
  • THIS
  • Beyond Meat
  • Vivera
  • Moving Mountains
A pack of Beyond Burger patties - meat alternatives are staples for many vegans
Image Credit: Beyond Meat

Plant-Based Proteins:

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

  • Tofu: extra firm for cooking or silken for sauces and desserts
  • Beans, chickpeas and lentils: dried or canned beans such as kidney beans, black beans, pinto beans. Lentils are a wonderful meat substitute in Bolognese, shepherd’s pie and lasagne
  • Seeds: sunflower, pumpkin, sesame, chia, flax
  • Nuts: almonds, cashews, walnuts, Brazils, pine nuts
  • Nut butters: peanut butter, almond butter, cashew butter, hazelnut butter
  • Tempeh: similar to tofu in that it is made from fermented soya beans. It’s firmer than tofu with a stronger flavour
  • Quinoa: a grain that’s also a great source of protein
  • Seitan
  • Protein powders: there are many vegan versions available, including flavoured options
Tofurkey tempeh smoky maple bacon flavour
Image Credit: Tofurky


GRAINS and CARBS

Nutritious grains and carbs are vegan cupboard staples, so make sure you stock up on these. Some bread and pasta may contain eggs or dairy, so double check labels.

  • Rice
  • Oats
  • Couscous
  • Pasta
  • Bread
  • Quinoa
  • Popcorn
  • Bulgur wheat
  • Barley
A bowl of oatmeal accompanied by strawberries
Image Credit: Pexels


COOKING and BAKING

Use these simple replacements to help you switch out the animal-based products in your cupboard:

  • Agar-agar: vegan substitute for gelatine, available from many supermarkets and wholefood shops
  • Nutritional yeast: a lovely cheesy flavour and great for vitamin B12. Try Marigold Engevita
  • Vegetable stock: (cubes or powder). Low sodium options are available
  • Vegetable bouillon
  • Miso: a fermented paste that’s great for adding umami flavour
  • Oils: olive oil, rapeseed, sunflower, coconut
  • Egg replacements: flax seeds or chia seeds (1 tablespoon of seed to 2 tablespoons of water for each egg required. Available in supermarkets and wholefood shops)
  • Honey replacements: agave nectar, maple syrup, date syrup
  • Blackstrap molasses: fantastic source of iron
Engevita Nutritional Yeast - one of the must-have vegan food essentials for cooking and baking
Image Credit: Marigold Health Foods


FRUIT AND VEGETABLES

It goes without saying that fruit and veg are essential vegan foods. Don’t forget to fill your diet with nutrient-rich fruits and veggies – eat the rainbow! Here are some of our favourites.

  • Kale: a vegan superfood! An excellent source of calcium and other vitamins and minerals
  • Bell peppers: great raw and dipped in hummus or in a stir fry
  • Sweet potato: a go-to source of vitamin A
  • Mushrooms: get your B vitamins here!
  • Berries: strawberries, blueberries, raspberries
  • Avocados: a great source of healthy fats!
Buddha bowl with an array of fruits and vegetables - these are obvious vegan food essentials we need everyday.
Image Credit: Unsplash

Vegan READY MEALS

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.

  • Supermarket own label
  • Wicked Kitchen at Tesco
  • Bol
  • Deliciously Ella
  • One Planet Pizza
  • Soulful
  • All Plants
  • Amy’s Kitchen
  • RED RED
  • Kirsty’s
  • VBites
BOL Creamy Coconut Goan Curry, a must-have ready meal on any vegan shopping list
Image Credit: BOL


Vegan SNACKS and DRINKS

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
  • Sausage rolls and pasties
  • Samosas and bhajis
  • Dried fruit
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Sweets and candies
A glass bowl of plain popcorn, a staple snack for many vegans
Image Credit: Unsplash


Inspired by our vegan shopping list? You can find more handy tips in our vegan guide to food labels to support your plant-powered journey.

Most of these vegan food essentials are available in the Veganuary supermarket, run by TheVeganKind. There is an ‘affiliate’ relationship between Veganuary and TheVeganKind, meaning that at no additional cost to you, Veganuary earns a commission if you make a purchase.

PAGE UPDATED JULY 2020

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