Going from an omnivorous or vegetarian lifestyle to a vegan one seems like a clear-cut transition: You’re cutting all animal products from your diet. But the task becomes a bit more difficult when you open your pantry and realize so many of your go-to favorites no longer fit your gastronomical requirements.
Fortunately, there are some vegan staples you can use to refill your cabinets and rely on for a quick, satisfying meal that’s animal-product-free. Here are 10 things to stock up on.
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This might be an obvious inclusion, but the vegan diet wouldn’t be complete without beans. Whether you choose dried or canned legumes, you’ll have a tasty source of protein and texture to add to any meal. Pinto beans, chickpeas, lentils and more are all options you can easily store and use to enhance the flavor and variety of your vegan meals.
New and seasoned vegans alike know the power of whole grains in their diet. Much like beans, they’re a filling addition to a meal, especially when layered at the bottom of a hearty Buddha bowl. These recipes combine grains, plant protein and vegetables in tasty, filling combinations, and they’re easy to throw together if you always have the staples in your pantry. Try to mix things up with rice, quinoa, couscous, bulgur wheat, barley and other grain variations.
3. Nuts and Seeds
When non-vegans imagine a plant-based diet, they envision people who eat raw fruits, vegetables and seeds all day long. These crunchy snacks aren’t just part of a farcical image of a vegan, though: They’re packed with protein and nutrients that enrich your diet.
Along with chia, pumpkin, sunflower and flax seeds, stock your pantry with almonds, walnuts and cashews. And, while they make great snacks, they bring just enough crunch to soups, salads and even the Buddha bowls we previously mentioned.
4. Non-Dairy Milk
The production of the dairy milk you used to drink has substantial environmental consequences: It creates a tremendous amount of nitrous oxide, a gas that’s 300 times more damaging to the earth than carbon dioxide. That’s why milks made of almonds, cashews or even coconut should have a special spot in your kitchen. Use non-dairy creamers to make your morning coffee tastier, too.
5. Oil, Vinegar and Sweeteners
Another mischaracterization of vegan cooking is that it’s dull and flavorless. However, you can spice things up with your favorite plant-based flavorings to make your meals complete. Stock up on tasty oils and vinegar you can use to make dressing, gravy and other sauces to complete a dish. On top of that, maple and agave syrups show up in a lot of vegan recipes as the all-natural sweetener of choice or a substitute for honey, so have those on hand, too.
6. Nutritional Yeast
One of the biggest surprises when it comes to the world of vegan eating is nutritional yeast. It sounds like it wouldn’t be more than an ingredient in a baked good, but it will probably become a staple in your diet. That’s because nutritional yeast is a tasty substitute for cheese in your diet — and you’ll find it in recipes for things like mac and cheese, cheesy popcorn and queso dip. If that’s not incentive enough, it’s packed full of B vitamins, protein and fiber, all of which are great for you.
7. Nut Butters
We’ve already touched on the importance of nuts in their natural form, but nut butters should also make their way into your vegan-friendly pantry. Just a dollop of almond, hazelnut or peanut butter can transform a bowl of oatmeal to an even tastier level. Try adding a spoonful to your smoothies, slathering it onto a piece of fruit or eating a bit by itself for an energizing bite of protein.
8. Vegetable Stock or Broth
Soups and stews will undoubtedly become a big part of your vegan diet. Unfortunately, many recipes call for beef or chicken broth as their base. You can swap in a vegan-friendly version to make the same soup without the animal products, so have a few cartons on hand for whenever you’re in the mood to fire up your stovetop and stew.
9. Canned Vegetables
You’ll probably fill your fridge with fresh fruits and veggies, but canned produce can be a quick addition to your vegan dinners, too. A few tins of diced tomatoes and garlic can transform into a tasty spaghetti sauce, while you can drop canned veggies or beans into a soup or curry to bulk it up and make it into a full-fledged, filling dinner.
10. Dried Fruits
Vegetables aren’t the only nonperishables that will keep for a while in your cabinets. Dried fruits like raisins and apricots can be a sweet snack all on their own, and they can add depth to an otherwise savory salad or curry, too. You might even pop a few pieces of dried fruit into your morning cereal or oatmeal — along with that spoonful of nut butter we already mentioned — to start your morning with even more flavor.
Make It Vegan
With a pantry full of vegan-friendly ingredients, you’re sure to stay on course with your animal-product-free lifestyle. So, start with the 10 items listed above, fill your kitchen and make it vegan — you’re doing yourself and the environment a favor by sticking to your healthy new way of eating.