Trying to craft the perfect plant-based diet shopping list? We can help!
There are so many incredible health benefits to choosing a plant-based diet. Think of it as less of a diet and more of a lifestyle. You may be wondering what the difference is between a vegan diet and a plant-based diet—and the answer is really just in the mindset.
People who follow a plant-based diet prefer to eat foods in their most natural form—whole grains, fresh produce, and unprocessed foods. They usually eat a plant-based diet for health reasons but won’t necessarily avoid animal products at all costs. Also, plant-based dieters will avoid processed and refined oils, flours, and sugars—whereas a vegan won’t necessarily avoid these things.
Thinking of trying out a plant-based lifestyle? Here are a few must-have items to add to your plant-based diet shopping list.
1. Root Vegetables and Tubers
Tubers are vegetables that grow underground. They tend to be starchy and filling, and make for a great addition to any plant-based meal. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, carrots, squash, and beets, are among the list of versatile and delicious roots and tubers that you need on your plant-based diet shopping list.
Baked sweet potato or potato stuffed with steamed veggies and beans makes for a great lunch or dinner. You should always have some tubers around for base for an easy and quick meal.
2. Whole Grains
Whole grains are key to the plant-based diet. They’re incredibly filling and nutritious due to their high fiber and mineral content. Whole grains also contain protein—whereas their processed counterparts are mostly stripped of any nutritional value.
Add some of these “whole grains” (some ingredients on the list, like quinoa, for example, are not actually grains) to your shopping list: whole rice, barley, steal-cut oats, millet, and quinoa. You may be surprised by where your protein is coming from once you switch to a plant-based lifestyle. One cup of cooked quinoa contains 8g of protein. And because whole grains are so rich in fiber, people on plant-based diets rarely have problems with constipation or gas.
Another excellent source of protein, legumes—including beans, peas, lentils, and peanuts—are incredibly nutritious and fibrous foods to eat on a plant-based diet.
Instead of buying precooked canned beans, buy dry beans and prepare them at home. Most beans need to be soaked overnight and boiled for 1-2 hours. Add beans, peas or lentils to a soup, or cook together with whole rice and serve with fresh or steamed vegetables for a complete meal.
Some of the healthiest legumes include navy beans, garbanzo beans, lentils, kidney beans, and black beans—so pick up a few packages of dry legumes next time you go grocery shopping.
4. Leafy Greens
Dark, leafy greens are a must in any diet—let alone a plant-based diet. This category includes some of the most nutritious antioxidant and anti-inflammatory foods out there. If you’re headed to the grocery store, you need to add kale, spinach, collard greens, mustard greens, or swiss chard to your cart.
Leafy greens are most nutritious eaten raw or lightly steamed—and they pack a mean nutritious profile that you don’t want to miss out on. In just one cup of raw chopped kale, you’ll benefit from 206% of your recommended daily intake (RDI) of vitamin A, 134% of your RDI of vitamin C, and 684% of your RDI of vitamin K—which is essential from blood and bone health.
5. Cruciferous Vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower, as well as some of the leafy greens mentioned above. Cruciferous vegetables contain important compounds which are known to be cancer-killing, inflammation-reducing, and immune-system-boosting.
Broccoli has topped the charts as one of the most nutritious foods out there—it’s an excellent source of carotenoids and folate as well as many other nutrients like vitamin K, vitamin C, B-complex vitamins, choline, and essential minerals.
All plant-based dieters (and all other people as well!) should be adding cruciferous vegetables to their shopping carts.
6. A Variety of Fruits
The best way to get a variety of nutrients is to eat fruits of a variety of colors. Buy seasonal fruit to have around for breakfast and to snack on in between meals. Eat a banana for a quick boost of energy, berries for antioxidants, and avocados for healthy fats. Grapefruit will help you shed some pounds, pineapple will fight inflammation, and watermelon will provide important electrolytes for hydration.
Dried fruit can also be mixed with nuts and seeds to make a great on-the-go trail mix. Raisins, goji berries, dried apricots, and dates all contain essential vitamins and minerals including iron, calcium, zinc, selenium, and manganese. Be sure to add fruit to your plant-based diet shopping list!
7. Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds are excellent sources of protein and essential minerals. They are most definitely a must when it comes to shopping for a plant-based diet. Almonds, cashews, and pistachios are among the healthiest nuts because they contain a variety of nutrients including vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, protein, fiber, and minerals like magnesium and manganese. Walnuts contain the highest amount of omega-3 fatty acids, and are known to be especially heart-healthy.
Seeds are another essential food for any plant-based dieter. If you’re putting a few on your shopping list, make them chia seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, and hemp seeds. These tiny little seeds are all excellent sources of fiber—chia seeds have 11g of fiber per ounce while flax seeds contain 8g fiber per ounce. Hemp seeds are an excellent source of protein because they contain all the essential amino acids—and they’re loaded with healthy omega-3 fatty acids, as are all the other seeds mentioned here.
If you’re switching to a plant-based lifestyle, it may be time to branch out and try new foods. Go to your local health food store and browse the fresh food section. Bring home new and interesting fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds, and experiment with different spices and herbs. And remember—the goal is to become a stronger and healthier you!
Which items are must haves as part of your plant-based diet shopping list? Be sure to let us know in the comments below!