So you’re thinking about giving up meat and dairy and embracing the health & environmental benefits of a plant-based diet? Or maybe you’ve started to realize that no living being should have suffer or die to feed you? Awesome! But does this mean your health or taste buds have to suffer because you only eat plant-based food? No way! Great tasting food is something that you never have to give up as a vegan and you will achieve the best of health if you do it right. The following are suggestions on what you should consider filling your refrigerator with to make every meal delicious, satisfying, and nutritious!
1. Fruit & Vegetables
Duh! Fresh fruit and vegetables should take up AT LEAST 50% of your refrigerator space, 70% if you truly want to be healthy. Yes, a plant-based diet is in principle healthier than any other diet (especially those that include lots of animal flesh), but you can be unhealthy if you eat way too much processed food, such as refined starches and deep-fried foods, even if they are vegan. Ever met an ex-vegetarian or vegan that is always ranting about how a plant-based diet made them unhealthy? Well, now you know why! If you’re not eating right (lots of fresh and whole foods), you will probably find reasons to fall off the vegan wagon sooner or later.
Your refrigerator should ideally contain a rainbow of fruit and vegetables. Variety is key to optimum plant-based nutrition. Never let a day pass by without eating your greens; green vegetables are a great source of protein. Wanna try drinking your greens? Check out our recipe here.
2. Faux meat
More and more varieties of mock meat are now available and you’ll have no problem filling an entire refrigerator just with this plant-based food category. However, you should avoid consuming too much processed mock meat (remember the tip on whole-food eating above).
Choose products that are organic and low in fat and sodium. Some product lines sell only vegan faux meat, while others carry both vegetarian and vegan varieties. We have an extensive vegan meat substitute guide that features several brands, to help you locate them more easily in stores.
3. Ready-made vegan meals
OK, you’re a busy person and don’t have time to cook and you live in a town that doesn’t have a single vegan-friendly restaurant. Don’t fret! With ready-made vegan meals available, who needs to go out anyway? The following are examples of some meals that just take a few minutes to heat.
“Chicken” meals: Gardein Trios, Dixie Diner’s Club Chicken (Not) and Dumplings, Sukhi’s Chili Chicken with Naan Bread
Enchiladas: Trader Joe’s Black Bean and Corn Enchiladas, Amy’s Black Bean Enchilada
Burritos: Gluten Freeda Vegan Burrito, Trader Joes’s vegetable burritos, Amy’s Kitchen Breakfast Burrito
Indian: Kashi Veggie Chana Masala, Tasty Bite Punjab Eggplant, Trader Joe’s Punjab Eggplant, Amy’s Kitchen Indian Mattar Tofu, Amy’s Kitchen Indian Samosa Wraps, Tasty Bite 90-second Indian Meals (many vegan options)
Pies: Amy’s Kitchen Shepherd’s Pie
Pizza: Tofurkey, Tofutti, Rossini’s, Trader Joe’s Roasted Vegetable Pizza, Amy’s Rice Crust Spinach Pizza, Amy’s Roasted Vegetable Pizza
Pasta: Rising Moon Organics Vegan Ravioli, Kashi Tuscan Veggie Bake
Choosing plant-based condiments, dips, and dressings can be a little tricky. Rigorous label reading is a must. Some are traditionally plant-based, but can have non-vegan additives since they are packaged. The brands listed below should make picking up plant-based condiments easier for you.
Mustard: Choose honey-free mustard such as Westbrea Dijon Style Mustard and Stone-Ground varieties
Dressing: Spectrum Organics Vegan Ceasar Salad Dressing, Organicville (French, Ceasar, Thousand Island, and Ranch). Flax oil, hemp oil, or omega-3 mix (such as Udo’s choice): Omega-3 oils are normally found in the refrigerated section of the health store as these oils are very-heat sensitive. Pour them instead into your salad or meals that are not steaming hot.
Flax meal: Bob’s Red Mill. Since flax meal is ground-up source of the delicate omega 3 fats it is also best to store it in an airtight container in your freezer to prevent the fatty acids from getting rancid.
Mayonnaise: Nayonaise, Veganaise, Dixie Diner’s Club Low Fat Mayo (Not!), Tiger Tiger
5. Dairy Alternatives
Yes, vegans can enjoy milk, cheese and ice cream as well. Fun definitely ain’t out in the plant-based diet! Don’t know anything about non-dairy milks and want to learn how to make yummy desserts without animal products? We got that covered here.
Think you can’t go vegan because you love cheese and ice cream too much? Think again! Check out these plant-based cheese and ice cream alternatives that are not only free of cholesterol, trans fats, hormones, antibiotics and allergens often found in cow’s milk, but are also delicious!
Cheddar: Daiya, Galaxy Foods, SoyCo, Bute Island Foods, Teese
Mozzarella: Daiya, Tofutti, Vegan Rella, Bute Island Foods
Parmesan: MH Foods Florentino Parmazano, Vegetarian Express, Vegan Parmesan Alternative
Blue: Bute Island Foods
Monterey Jack: Follow Your Heart
Gouda: Bute Island Foods
Single Slices: Galaxy Foods, Tofutti
Feta: Sunergia So Foods
Cream cheese: Follow Your Heart, Tofutti
Sour cream: Toffuti, Wayfare Foods
Whipped cream: Soyattoo
Ice cream: Taste the Dream, Tofutti, So Delicious, Coconut Bliss
So what are you waiting for? Head out to the grocery store and start stocking up that vegan refrigerator!
What’s in your fridge? Let us know in the comments section below!