The problem is we view vegan food as some special packaged something that can only be found in certain places for absorbent prices. Vegan simply means without meat or any animal products, meaning an apple, zucchini, a broccoli bushel, a head of cabbage, and even a bag of peanuts all if prepared without using animal products would be considered vegan. So from this we can deduce that you can buy vegan foods where ever there is a produce section. As I mentioned before vegan can be done on a budget and taste great , but where do I find the ingredients I need to get started? You will be surprised to find out!
Tip 1: Picking Produce
The biggest thing to be aware of while picking produce is how vital and ripe it looks. This may be a bit controversial for some but I would rather clean a hearty conventionally grown vegetable than eat a limp organic one. Of course you should be aware of the fact that certain produce does have a wax coating that is chemical and completely non-digestible like cucumbers, apples, zucchinis, and oranges. Rest assured that these nasty ingredients can be removed by letting your produce soak for 30 min.; using 1 cup baking soda and apple cider vinegar in a full warm sink of water. Of course if you can find a nice farmers market or organic produce stand more power to you, but it’s still good to know that if you absolutely must shop at the supermarket you can.
Tip 2: Specialty Items for Cheap?
You may have a specialty item or organic isle in your supermarket, chances are the prices are steep for the quantity and sometimes quality of the products. Again understand that if you are in a less vegan friendly location online shopping, for non-perishables, is your friend; but you may be able to find some pretty great stuff in the ethnic isle as well. Isles marked Hispanic, Latino, Caribbean, or Asian foods may also be the home to some of your vegan essentials. Things like specialty grains, obscure spices and sauces, soy products, and coconut milk can be found in these isles and are your go to isles while shopping out of town.
Tip 3: DIY
Making things from scratch may seem old fashioned, but it’s one of the healthiest and cheapest ways to make sure you are getting the highest quality and purest food as a vegan. By making things from scratch you reduce the involvement of brands that may not have your best interest in mind thus minimizing the amount of filler and preservative ingredients. It is also a bit easier and cheaper to find say, dried chickpeas rather than chickpea flour or millet flour than millet biscuits. The point is that many people, not just vegans use these ingredients in their simpler forms; so that increases their demand and availability.
Tip 4: Reading Your Labels
Now we already established that making things from scratch is your best bet to keep your food as clean, fresh, and tasty as possible but this isn’t always possible. We are all busy and sometimes opt for the quick and simple version of things like pastries, breads, milk, and other miscellaneous items that make life simpler, but when doing so be sure that you are fully aware of what you are putting in your body. I could go on a long rant listing hundreds of ingredients you should be scared of and why but when it comes to labels I have a very simple rule, “If you can’t read it don’t eat it.” Normally ingredients that sound like “hyrdotriptacytolene” should not be consumed by humans. If you google most of these chemical ingredients it will show you a significant amount of side effects that can be a little scary to say the least.
Here’s a quick list red flag ingredients to be on the look out for
- MSG also known as monosodium glutamate
- Sodium Nitrate
- Aspartame or any artificial sweetener (including refined sugar & high fructose corn syrup)
(Stay tuned for more about this topic in my upcoming blog “Reading Labels; What the f#*%k is in Your Food?”)
Tip 5: Speak Up
Let the management at your local grocery store know what you would like to see more of. If they are friendly and see you shopping there often they may order some of the items you request. This may not always work but being polite, charming, and persuasive can get you far.
Here are some tips on selling the manager on stocking more vegan friendly foods.
- Requesting more nondairy products will not only be good for vegans but can also serve those who are lactose intolerant.
- More organic grains like millet, spelt, quinoa, and such provide vegans with a much needed nutrient boost while also serving those who may have gluten allergies.
- Last but not least remember to stay friendly and polite while making you points.
Consumer feedback is a huge part of any business and you may be surprised to learn how willing your grocery store chains maybe to suite your needs.
New to the series? Don’t forget to read
Pt. 4 Can I Eat out?
Pt. 5 How do I travel while vegan?