Vegan Grocery List for Beginners

Shopping for vegan items at a grocery store is easy when you know what to look for! Here’s a basic vegan grocery list for beginners to help you shop with confidence.

When you’re ready to eat out, Willow serves delicious vegan dishes with innovative preparations. Visit us today for dine-in, delivery, or takeout!

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Fresh Produce

Eating a vegan diet involves much more than iceberg lettuce and broccoli. For a vegan, the world is your produce section! We all have our go-to fruits and vegetables, like potatoes, apples, onions, garlic, etc. But don’t forget to try new options, too! Challenge yourself to try one new fruit or vegetable a week. You’ll find that as the seasons change, different items will show up in the produce section. That’s usually because that particular item is in season. Plus, it’s also when it will be the least expensive.

Refrigerated Items

Instead of shopping for items like eggs or cheese, stock your fridge with vegan essentials, like tofu, vegan yogurt, vegan cream cheese, hummus, and plant-based milk.

Note: You can also buy shelf-stable plant-based milk. It will ultimately need to be refrigerated when open, but they typically have a longer shelf life.

Frozen Foods

Frozen items, like fruits and vegetables, are great to stock up on and come in handy on those days when you need to get something on the table fast. There’s a common misconception that frozen produce isn’t as nutritious as fresh produce. However, fruits and vegetables are picked at peak ripeness when they’re most nutritious and frozen within a few hours to preserve the nutrients.


Brown rice, quinoa, and oats, oh my! Grains will quickly become a staple in your vegan pantry because they can quickly add bulk or complete any meal. If you’re not familiar with grains like farro, barley, or millet, expand your horizons and give them a try.


Pasta can absolutely be part of a healthy vegan diet. Just make sure to read the label because many pastas are made with eggs. For the most part, whole wheat pasta and some gluten-free pastas (e.g., chickpea, rice, lentil, etc.) are vegan-friendly. 

Baking and Pantry Staples

Baking and pantry staples are items that most kitchens can’t do without. Think baking soda, baking powder, flour, sugar (buy organic to avoid bone char), pure maple syrup, vanilla extract, etc.

Herbs and Spices

If you weren’t using herbs and spices before, you will now. Having a well-stocked spice rack will help you add flavor to your food and make it pop. Herbs and spices can be expensive, so don’t feel you have to buy every single one upfront. You can build your collection over time and experiment as you go.

Canned Goods

Like frozen foods, canned goods are another food item to stock up on. Beans, tomatoes, artichokes, and other canned items will quickly become your pantry’s best friends!

International Foods

Eating a vegan diet will introduce you to new cuisines and flavors. For new vegans, items like soy sauce, tamari, (gluten-free), coconut aminos (soy-free), hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, coconut milk, and, of course, Sriracha are must-haves. If you’re feeling more adventurous, don’t be afraid to visit your local Asian and international markets for more variety.


Most condiments you enjoyed in your pre-vegan days can still be enjoyed now that you’re vegan — just make sure to check the label.

Bakery Items

Again, make sure to read the label as many breads and tortillas can contain non-vegan ingredients, like milk, eggs, lard, and honey.

Non-Vegan Ingredients to Look Out For

Unless you have a food allergy or other dietary restrictions, one of the hardest habits to start on a vegan diet is to read food labels. You’ll be surprised by how many foods that you think would be vegan actually contain milk or dairy by-products. While most food labels now highlight common food allergies like dairy, shellfish, wheat, and soy, it’s best to get familiar with popular non-vegan ingredients that companies add to their products.

Some common non-vegan ingredients include:

  • Anchovies and other fish or shellfish
  • Casein
  • Confectioner’s glaze (on candy)
  • Gelatin
  • Ghee
  • Honey and beeswax
  • Isinglass (in beer and wine)
  • L. Cysteine (in bread)
  • Lactose
  • Lard
  • Shellac
  • Whey
  • Milk powder

Visit Willow in NYC!

We hope this vegan grocery list for beginners assists you! If you’d like to try some delicious vegan cuisine in NYC, stop by Willow today. Our restaurant at 199 8th Avenue serves vegan comfort food with upscale plating. You can also place pickup or delivery orders online. We look forward to serving you an outstanding meal!

Order Online


7 Best Vegan Protein Sources

One of the biggest misconceptions about a vegan diet is that you won’t be able to get enough protein. The good news is you can absolutely meet your protein needs without eating meat—you just have to know where to get it! Continue reading to discover the seven best vegan protein sources you should incorporate into your diet.

Willow serves vegan dishes with innovative preparations. Learn more below, and visit us today for dine-in, delivery, or takeout!

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What You Need to Know About Protein

Protein is one of three main macronutrients the body needs in large amounts in order to sustain life. It’s essential for building, maintaining, and repairing the tissues in your body, including hair, nails, muscles, bones, and organs. Protein also gives your body energy, keeps your immune system strong, and helps you feel fuller longer. 

Protein is made up of 21 building blocks known as amino acids. They can be broken down into two types: nonessential and essential. Of the 21 amino acids, the body can produce 12 on its own. These are known as nonessential amino acids. The remaining nine amino acids are essential, which means you must get them from your diet.

The Best Vegan Protein Sources

While protein is present in animal products such as meat, dairy, and eggs, there are plenty of vegan protein sources that make it easy to meet your needs:


It may sound evil, but seitan (pronounced SAY-tan) is 100% cruelty-free. This protein-packed meat alternative is made from gluten, which is the main protein in wheat. It contains 46 grams of protein per ½ cup. Seitan is incredibly versatile, and due to its meat-like texture, it’s often sliced thin like deli meat or cut thick for “steaks.”

See what seitan is all about with our Cherrywood Smoked Pastrami or “Steak” Frites from Willow Vegan Bistro. Order now!


Tofu is the original vegan protein. Dating as far back as 2,000 years, this solid white block of condensed soy milk contains 20 grams of protein per cup. Tofu also has an advantage over other plant proteins because it’s a complete protein, which means it contains all nine essential amino acids that you need to get from food.


Tempeh is a traditional Indonesian food that can be used in stir fry or to make tempeh bacon. Just like tofu, tempeh is made from soybeans, making this meat alternative a complete protein. However, tempeh has tofu beat when it comes to protein. One-half cup of tempeh contains 16 grams of vegan protein!

Vegan Meat

Just like the real thing, plant-based meat is also a rich source of protein. For example, a 4oz Impossible Burger patty contains 19 grams of protein, which is the same amount of protein you’d find in a ground beef patty.

Sink your teeth into Willow’s Cheeseburger Sliders or Eggplant Lasagna, both made with Impossible meat. Order now!


Lentils are the protein king of the legume family. In one cup of cooked lentils, you’ll get 18 grams of protein. Lentils come in many varieties, including brown, green, and red.


If you’re looking to load up on a complete protein but don’t want to eat tofu or tempeh, go straight to the source! One cup of cooked edamame or soybeans contains about 18.5 grams of protein.


If lentils are the king of the legume family, then chickpeas are the queen. The main ingredient in everyone’s favorite dip, hummus, contains 16 grams of protein per cup.

Visit Willow in NYC!

We hope you enjoyed learning about the seven best vegan protein sources. If you’d like to try some delicious vegan cuisine in NYC, stop by Willow today! Our restaurant at 199 8th Avenue serves vegan comfort food with upscale plating. You can also place pickup or delivery orders online. We look forward to serving you an outstanding meal!

Order Online