How to Shop for Plant-based Groceries

Have you ever gone to the grocery store and looked at what’s inside the shopping carts of the people around you? I have, and I can tell you that what I most often see is astounding: soda, Doritos, potato chips, hot dogs, and many other things that are calorie dense and, what most people would consider, “unhealthy.” Beyond being a vegan, I want to put food in my body that will sustain me and allow me to live a long, healthy life, and as an advocate for pursuing a healthy lifestyle, I’d like to share with you how I approach shopping for plant-based foods using the vegan food pyramid.

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This image was taken from ThisIsMyYear on No copyright infringement was intended, as this image was included for educational purposes.

First, pick up your fruits and veggies. If you take a look at the vegan food pyramid, an example of which I have included above, the largest section is comprised of fruits and vegetables, and in this way, your shopping cart should be filled mostly that. Plus, when your cart is empty, whatever section of the grocery store you start in will influence what fills a majority of your cart; with this in mind, if you start with the fruits and vegetables section, you will be more likely to fill most of your cart with a wide variety of them, which even a non-vegan would tell you is not a bad thing.

Second, pick up your grains. Now that your cart contains your plant-based staples, it, it’s time to add the second most important items from the vegan food pyramid: grains. For me, grains usually consists of bread, bagels, and pastas. When shopping for breads and bagels, I highly recommend choosing whole grains, as these are going to provide the most nutrients and fiber, which is great for your digestive system. Likewise, when shopping for pastas, I highly suggest going for whole grain or those containing servings of vegetables; these version of pasta will not only had some variety to the flavor of your foods but will also boost your likelihood of meeting your daily nutritional needs.

Third, grab some legumes. I’m sure you guessed it, as we are continuously moving up the food pyramid as we go. My favorite legumes? Beans! Beans are both inexpensive and easy to incorporate into your diet. I’ve mentioned this a lot in previous posts, but I’m from California, and I’m always down for a good burrito. I usually make my burritos with black beans, which adds both protein and iron to my diet. In addition to black beans, I also really like lentils because they are also high in protein and iron. They can be found in many pre-made soups, which also makes it easy to incorporate them into your diet as well.

Finally, grab some healthy fats and oils. You’re probably wondering why I’m skipping over the leafy greens section, but I’m assuming that you got that covered earlier when you picked up your fruits and vegetables. Anyways, this is the last thing you’ll need to create a fulfilling, well-balanced diet: fats and oils. For healthy fats, my favorite go-to’s are almonds and avocados; in comparison to avocados, I would say that almonds are slightly better because they last longer, but both are delicious and easy to incorporate into a variety of meals. Moreover, while I’m trying to reduce the amount of oil that goes into my diet, I recommend grabbing some olive oil; this is a great alternative to butter and can add some flavor to plain dishes.

How do you like to approach grocery shopping? Are there any tips and tricks that I missed? I’d love to chat with you in the comments section.

The featured photo was taken by Hao Ji. Find more of her work at


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