Vegan Food List for Beginners (Dietitian-Curated with PDF!)

If you’re new to the vegan lifestyle, welcome! While you’re probably feeling excited about this new journey, you may also be feeling somewhat lost when it comes to which foods you can actually eat.

At first glance, a vegan diet may seem incredibly restrictive. But this is far from the truth! A wide variety of plant-based foods is available to vegans. My goal with this post is to help you become familiar with them and hopefully feel a little less overwhelmed.

Continue reading for a comprehensive vegan food list for beginners. A downloadable PDF you can keep on your phone or print to take with you to the grocery store is also included.

Grocery store shelves full of fresh vegetables, an important part of a vegan food list for beginners

How do I tell which foods are vegan?

First, I’ll provide a quick explanation of how to tell whether a given food is vegan or not. Vegan foods are plant-based, meaning that they do not come from animal sources. Any animal body part or food that is produced by an animal’s body is avoided by vegans. These foods include:

  • Meat, poultry, & seafood
  • Dairy (milk, cheese, butter, and ghee)
  • Tallow, lard (animal fats)
  • Eggs
  • Honey

Foods that are processed using animal-based ingredients are also avoided. Some examples are:

  • Cane sugar processed with animal bone char to remove impurities
  • Alcohol such as beer, wine, and spirits which have been filtered with animal-based ingredients like gelatin, isinglass (from fish bladders), whey, casein, lactose, and shellfish-based chitin

For packaged foods that appear to be vegan, make it a habit to always check the ingredients list on the nutrition facts label. Many products contain unexpected animal-based ingredients. Some of these might be:

  • Milk powder
  • Honey
  • Lactose
  • Sodium caseinate (common ingredient in “non-dairy” coffee creamers)
  • Cochineal extract
  • Carmine
  • Gelatin

A quick trick is to check the allergens listed on the label. This will tell you if the product contains any milk, eggs, fish, or Crustacean shellfish since these are common allergens that food manufacturers are required by the FDA to disclose.

Keeping all of this information straight can be challenging. Fortunately, using apps like Fig and Vegan Food Scanner or websites like Barnivore can help you learn which foods and beverages are vegan-friendly.

Now that we’ve discussed which foods are not included in a vegan eating pattern, let’s discuss the abundance of plant-based foods available to vegans!

Vegan food list for beginners

To help with your transition to veganism, I’ve created a helpful vegan food list for beginners organized by grocery store sections and aisles.


Fresh fruit

All fruit is vegan! Some of the most popular fresh fruits are:

  • Apples, Apricots, Avocado, Acai berries
  • Bananas, Blueberries
  • Cherries, Coconut
  • Dates
  • Grapes, Grapefruit
  • Jackfruit
  • Kiwis
  • Lemons, Limes, Lychee
  • Mango, Melons
  • Oranges
  • Pears, Pineapple, Pomegranate
  • Raspberries
  • Strawberries

Shelf-stable fruit

  • Canned fruit, like peaches and pears
  • Fruit cups (packed in water or juice)
  • Applesauce
  • Raisins and other dried fruit

Frozen fruit

  • Any individually frozen fruit, like strawberries, mango, or pineapple
  • Frozen mixed fruit such as mixed berry blends or tropical fruit mix often used for smoothies


Fresh vegetables

  • Artichokes, Asparagus
  • Bell peppers, Bok choy, Broccoli
  • Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Chayote, Corn
  • Eggplant
  • Garlic, Green beans, Green onions/scallions
  • Jalapenos
  • Leafy greens (spinach, kale, lettuce, radicchio, pea shoots)
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Poblano peppers, Potatoes
  • Snow peas, Sweet potatoes
  • Tomatillos, Tomatoes, Turnips
  • Winter squashes
  • Yellow Squash
  • Zucchini

Canned or jarred vegetables

  • Canned corn, peas, green beans, etc.
  • Tomato paste
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Pumpkin
  • Sun-dried tomatoes

Frozen vegetables

Most frozen vegetables are vegan, but watch out for items that have a sauce or other seasonings. These sometimes contain butter or milk.

  • Individual frozen vegetables, like broccoli, peas, or corn
  • Stir-fry vegetable blends
  • Steam-in-bag vegetables


  • Bread (no milk, egg, or honey)
  • Bagels (no egg)
  • English muffins (no milk or butter)
  • Pasta (boxed pasta is usually vegan; fresh pasta may contain eggs. Avoid egg noodles)
  • Rice noodles
  • Rice
  • Tortillas (no lard)
  • Pita 
  • Roti 
  • Quinoa
  • Barley
  • Oatmeal
  • Millet
  • Couscous
  • Farro
  • Amaranth
  • Fonio
Image with different types of pasta

Beans & legumes

  • Black beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Black-eyed peas
  • Lentils
  • Peas
  • Edamame
  • Tofu
  • Tempeh
  • Bean-based pastas
  • Bean-based rice 
  • Textured vegetable protein (TVP)
  • Soy curls

Nuts & nut butters

  • Almonds and almond butter
  • Brazil nuts
  • Cashews and cashew butter
  • Chestnuts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Peanuts and peanut butter
  • Pecans and pecan butter
  • Pine nuts
  • Pistachios
  • Walnuts

Seeds & seed butters

  • Chia seeds
  • Flax seeds
  • Hemp seeds
  • Poppy seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sesame seeds and tahini (ground sesame seeds)
  • Sunflower seeds and sunflower seed butter

Plant-based dairy

Non-dairy milk

  • Almond milk
  • Cashew milk
  • Coconut milk
  • Hemp milk
  • Oat milk
  • Pea milk
  • Rice milk
  • Soy milk
  • Non-dairy milk blends with added pea protein

Trying to decide which dairy alternatives to choose? Check out which non-dairy milks have the most protein!

Oat milk latte in white coffee cup

Non-dairy yogurt

Any yogurt made from non-dairy milks are vegan. Popular ones include:

  • Soy yogurt
  • Oat milk yogurt
  • Coconut milk yogurt
  • Almond milk yogurt

Non-dairy butter

Perhaps surprisingly, there are many vegan butter alternatives to choose from that are made from plant-based oils. A few popular brands include:

  • Earth Balance Buttery Spread
  • Miyoko’s Cultured Vegan Butter
  • Country Crock Plant Butter
  • Blue Bonnet Non-Dairy Plant Butter

Non-dairy cheese

There are also many non-dairy cheese alternatives to choose from to help satisfy any cheese cravings. Try different brands to find the ones you enjoy most.

  • Vegan shredded cheese
  • Vegan cream cheese
  • Vegan block cheeses
  • Vegan cheese spreads

Meat alternatives

  • Seitan – made from gluten, seitan is a high-protein alternative with a “meaty” texture. It can come in many variations, such as:

    • Cubes
    • Deli slices
    • Sausages
    • Chorizo
    • Holiday meat-free roasts
    • Chicken alternatives
    • Seafood alternatives
  • Mycoprotein-based meat alternatives made from the fungus Fusarium venenatum, under the brand name “Quorn”
  • Other meat alternatives, like Beyond Meat or Impossible Foods products, which most closely mimic the texture and flavor of meat (best to choose these less frequently than whole foods like beans, lentils, and tofu)

Dips & spreads

  • Baba ghanoush
  • Cashew queso
  • Cowboy caviar
  • Fruit jams
  • Guacamole
  • Hummus
  • Vinaigrettes (most varieties)
  • Non-dairy pesto
  • Non-dairy ranch dressing
  • Romesco sauce
  • Sun-dried tomato spread
  • Tahini dressing


  • Banana peppers
  • BBQ sauce (no honey, sardines, anchovies, or Worcestershire sauce)
  • Coconut aminos
  • Giardiniera 
  • Hot sauce
  • Ketchup
  • Miso
  • Mustard
  • Olives
  • Pepperoncini
  • Pickles
  • Relish
  • Salsa
  • Soy sauce
  • Tamari
  • Teriyaki sauce (no honey)
  • Vegan mayo
  • Vegan Worcestershire sauce

Herbs, spices, & other seasonings

  • Salt (iodized since vegan diets can be low in iodine)
  • All fresh herbs (rosemary, thyme, basil, dill, etc)
  • Dried herbs and spices
  • Many seasoning mixes (no tallow, other animal fats, or milk)
  • Nutritional yeast (gives a cheesy flavor)
  • Black salt/kala namak (gives an egg-like flavor)
  • Garlic
  • Ginger root


  • Avocado oil
  • Canola oil
  • Coconut oil (use sparingly due to high saturated fat content)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Flax seed oil (best used raw, as in salad dressings)
  • Safflower oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Sunflower oil
  • Walnut oil (best used raw, as in salad dressings)


  • Maple syrup 
  • Organic cane sugar and brown sugar*
  • Agave nectar
  • Blackstrap molasses
  • Coconut sugar
  • Date syrup
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Stevia
  • Monkfruit
  • Erythritol

*In the United States, cane sugar is filtered and purified using animal bone char and therefore isn’t vegan-friendly. Organic brands don’t use bone char and are vegan.

Other pantry items

  • All-purpose flour
  • Almond flour
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Garbanzo bean flour
  • Cocoa powder
  • Cream of tartar
  • Whole wheat flour
  • Protein powder (soy, pea, hemp)
  • Some cereal (no dairy, honey)
  • Vegetable broth
  • Vegan bouillon
  • Vinegar (balsamic, apple cider, red wine vinegar, etc.)


  • Potato chips (no dairy)
  • Crackers (no milk or honey)
  • Pretzels
  • Granola bars (no milk or honey)
  • Popcorn (no milk, butter, honey, or caramel)
  • Trail mix (no milk or honey)
  • Tortilla chips
  • Veggie chips (no milk)
  • Vegan jerky
  • Roasted chickpeas or edamame
  • Rice cakes


  • Coffee (coffee beans, cold brew, non-dairy bottled coffee)
  • Tea (tea bags, bottled iced teas)
  • Alcohol (research brands made without gelatin, isinglass, honey, etc. using Barnivore)
  • Fruit juice (watch for brands that add animal-based vitamin D3 to juices)
  • Sparking water
  • Kombucha
  • Coconut water


I hope that after reading this food list, you’ve seen just how much variety there can be with a vegan diet. With some creativity and experimentation, you can easily incorporate a variety of flavors and textures in your meals!

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