What’s stopping you from being vegetarian or vegan?
For part 4 of this Friday mini-series, we’ll talk about what you can eat on a vegetarian or vegan diet. If you missed the other posts, check out these links to catch up: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.
Are you scared you’ll never have anything to eat?
There is a preconceived mindset that if you are vegan, you can’t eat anything anymore. The reality is that you can eat so much REAL food and sometimes even more food than you ate before. Removing animal products from your diet really opens up a new world of possible foods that you might not have been willing to even try before.
Throughout this post, I will take you on a tour of my local grocery store to show you how much food you can actually it. You won’t feel deprived and you’ll probably be amazed at all the food you can eat. I will be showing what my small town Kroger (East coast version of Ralph’s) offers. Let’s start at the beginning of the store. I always stop by these little islands when I first get to the store. The fresh bread section usually offers several options that are vegan. I love extra crunchy bread full of seeds like sunflower, flax and pumpkin. The next stop is this little cheese island. I am currently still eating cheese, but I haven’t purchased a cheese item from this island in months! However, one of my favorite foods is always here…HUMMUS. I love all kinds of hummus but my all-time favorite is the roasted pine nut. To take it up a notch, I squeeze half of a lemon into the container and stir it up. I love to eat my hummus with carrots, snap peas, bell pepper strips and Mary’s Super Seed crackers.
Moving on through the store, I approach the two sections of the store that I spend the most amount of time and money – the Natural Section and Produce. These two sections kind of blend into one harmonious store. In the Natural section, I can find some baking staples that I use frequently like unsweetened coconut chips, different flours, ground flax seeds for egg replacers, vegan sour cream, vegan yogurt, vegan ice cream and vegan meat alternatives. There is even shelf stable macaroni and cheese products like these by Daiya. Here is where you can find all the meal replacement bars, coconut water, almond milk, coconut milk and oat milk. Now this may be news to some, but this section – Produce – here is ALL VEGAN! You can have anything you want here! Clearly you can see that there are tons of options here like tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, potatoes, onion, lettuce, carrots, cabbage, watermelon, oranges, avocados, mushrooms, etc. The options truly are endless.
Now you’ll want to pretty much avoid the outer perimeter of the store from here as it’s usually where the meat, seafood and dairy departments are. The dairy department does have some saving grace though since they now offer cold milk alternatives and of course juice.
In the center aisles, we purchase a lot of the same ingredients consistently. Some of our pantry staples include various types of pasta, various flavors of spaghetti sauce (Don’t forget to check for hidden dairy!), taco shells, salsa, canned veggies, canned and dried beans, cereal, dried fruit, popcorn kernels, flour, chips, pizza crust and – how could I forget? – BREAD!
The standard frozen aisles has a lot of hidden gems that most people would miss completely. When fresh produce is out of season, the frozen vegetable section is the next best bet since they don’t have any added salt like their canned counterparts. Just keep an eye out for anything that says it’s in some kind of sauce! There are also more meat alternatives in this section as well like Boca, Gardein and Morningstar. All of these offer vegan options for delicious additions to your dinner rotations. Now the section that everyone loves – frozen pizza. Growing up, Friday nights were always movie and pizza night. We’d get delivery sometimes but usually it was a standard frozen pizza. There are a few options here and can be difficult to find and unfortunately my store doesn’t offer any vegan options. I usually have to go to the city to get my vegan pizza fix. Amy’s Kitchen offers a vegan pizza with no cheese as well as a vegan cheese option sporting the Daiya label. There are a ton of vegetarian options though! I have never been a fan of meat on my pizza and have always purchased or ordered a pizza full of veggies like onions, pepper, mushrooms, spinach and basically whatever else I could fit on it!
The last section of the my store boasts lots of salty snacks and alcohol. Chips are my favorite guilty treat. There are a lot of vegan options here. Here is a list of my favorite options: Kettle Brand Potato Chips (Backyard Barbecue and Pepperoncini), Lay’s potato chips (Barbecue and Dill Pickle), Lay’s Kettle Cooked potato chips (40% Less Fat Original, 40% Less Fat Sea Salt & Vinegar), Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos, BBQ Pringles and Tostitos tortilla chips. If your Friday night includes a happy hour, check out the Barnivore website to find vegan beer options. Just type in your favorite booze to learn if it is vegan!
Hopefully, this gives you some confidence on where to steer your buggy on your next shopping trip. Just remember to always check the ingredients list. I have found that there are a lot more vegan products than just those that are labeled as such. So many products are accidentally vegan so don’t deprive yourself and pick up those Oreos – they’re vegan!