Welcome to the vegan corner of Live Eat Learn! I hope to make this an ultra-informative place for you to come for all things vegan eating. Let’s jump to the good stuff first:
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How to stock a vegan pantry
While my pantry is not completely vegan, the following are some of my vegan-specific pantry and refrigerator staples for a well-balanced vegan diet. Note that this isn’t absolutely everything you need in your pantry, just a few very vegan-specific staples to help you keep good nutritional balance and make really tasty vegan food!
- Canned and Dried Beans
- Canned chickpeas: These make a hearty substitute for meat, like in Roasted Chickpea Gyros!
- Canned black beans, red kidney beans, black-eyed peas, and navy beans: Packed with protein and fiber, beans are an easy way to add a nutritious boost to just about any meal.
- Frozen edamame: I love snacking on these. Just cook ‘em (either microwave or boil, depending on packaging), sprinkle with coarse sea salt, and snack away.
- Grains and Flours
- Rice (wild grain, brown, arborio): I use brown rice as a replacement to white rice almost always. Wild grain rice tends to be more fibrous and nutty, which is fun on salads. And arborio is important for tasty risotto!
- Quinoa: Technically a seed but treated as a grain, this contains all the essential amino acids, making it a complete protein source.
- Oats: Rolled, instant, or steel-cut doesn’t make a difference apart from the texture you’re going for! Learn more about them here.
- Oat flour: This is simple oats ground into a fine powder. Perfect for thickening up sauces and stews, and for gluten-free baking!
- Almond flour: Almonds ground into a fine powder. Perfect for gluten-free baking!
- Millet: A nutty grain-like seed that can be made into porridge, breads, and a whole lot more.
- Buckwheat: A gluten-free grain made from a seed. Its groats are great for porridge and its flour is perfect for gluten-free baking.
- Nuts, Seeds, & Dried Fruits
- Nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews (especially for vegan dairy alternatives), macadamia, pine): Stock up on nuts for snacking, adding crunch to meals, or for making dairy-free alternatives (like this Vegan Cheesecake from Minimalist Baker)
- Seeds (pepitas, hemp, chia, flax, sunflower): Like nuts, these tend to be nutrition powerhouses that can easily be worked into a lot of dishes.
- Dried cranberries, cherries, raisins: Add sweetness to baked goods, porridge, and salads!
- Olive oil: My go to for almost all stovetop cooking.
- Extra virgin olive oil: An important member of the oil team for cold dishes, like salad dressings. This one has a lower smoke point, meaning you can’t heat it quite as high.
- Safflower oil: With almost no flavor, polyunsaturated fats (the good kind of fat), and a high smoke point, this is your oil for healthier frying.
- Sesame oil: This also has a high smoke point, but brings a really sesame, nutty taste. Super tasty in Asian stirfries!
- Coconut oil: This has a high smoke point and a distinct coconut aroma and taste. It’s high in saturated fat, so use it in moderation.
- Maple syrup: Use a touch of maple syrup as a sweetener instead of sugar for a more rounded taste and more phyotchemicals and antioxidants than table sugar.
- Medjool dates: Soak these to get them nice and soft then remove the pits and blend into a date paste. This paste works wonders for sweetening things like baked goods!
- Stevia: The leaves of the stevia plant are dried, ground up, and sometimes removed of their color to create a substance that can be substituted for sugar.
- Odds and Ends
- Nutritional yeast: A deactivated yeast that has a cheesy/eggy/savory flavor. Super great for vegan alternatives, like Eggless French Toast.
- Cocoa powder: Low in calories and full of flavor, I always keep cocoa powder on hand.
- Raw cacao nibs or powder: While cocoa has been roasted at a high temperature, cacao is raw, so a lot of the nutrients are still well and intact. You can use cacao and cocoa interchangeably in most recipes.
- Unsweetened applesauce: You can replace butter or oil with unsweetened applesauce (ration 1:1) in many recipes, so I like to keep this on hand!
- Coconut milk (full-fat and light): Skim the cream off full-fat cans to make dairy-free whipped cream, or use light coconut milk to add a lot of creaminess to soups or smoothies.
- Low-sodium vegetable broth or bouillon: Instant flavor for so many dishes!
- Whole popcorn kernels: For when you’re in a snacking mood, popcorn is a healthy whole grain option to have on hand.
- Cornstarch: Use it to thicken soups or as a dusting before frying (like in this Almond Tofu Nuggets)
- Condiments and Sauces
- Miso: An umami-rich paste made from fermented soybeans. It’s great for adding salt/savory/umami to soups, dressings, marinades, the works.
- Dijon mustard: Adds a bit of spicy intensity to dishes. Even if you don’t like mustard (like me), this is an important one to have for general cooking.
- Tahini: Made from sesame seeds, this is a potent little sauce that I incorporate into Asian dishes and baked goods alike.
- Sriracha or chili garlic sauce: Does this one need an explanation? Spice is a necessity in my kitchen. If sriracha isn’t your thing, chili-garlic sauce is a close contender.
- Hummus: Made from chickpeas and tahini, this is a protein-packed spread that’s great in sandwiches or as a veggies/pita bread dip.
- Soy sauce and tamari: Soy sauce is salty and usually contains gluten, while tamari is thicker, less salty, and contains less (or sometimes no) gluten. I always have at least one on hand!
- Salsa: Because sometimes chips and salsa for dinner is just what’s gonna to happen.
- Alterna-milks and Dairy
- Soy milk: A protein-rich alternative to cow’s milk.
- Almond milk: Lower in calories and saturated fat than soy and cow’s milk, but a bit lower in protein.
- Oat milk: I love the super oaty taste of this milk…almost like the milk left after a bowl of cereal!
- Rice milk: High in carbs and low in protein, this one is really just good for those with allergies or lactose intolerance.
- Earth Balance or Smart Balance butter: Margarines made from a blend of natural oils, totally dairy-free!
- Tofu: Coagulated soy milk curds (yummm!) I like to keep a few packs in the freezer! They take on a really nice texture when they thaw + you’ll never run out.
- Tempeh: Fermented cooked soybeans. This has an earthier taste and a whole lot more protein and fiber than tofu.
- Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP): A nutrient-dense soy-based meat replacement.
- Egg replacements
- Soft tofu for scramble eggs
- Unsweetened apple sauce for eggs in baking (1/4 cup apple sauce = 1 egg)
- Mashed banana for eggs in baking (1/2 banana = 1 egg)
- Flax seeds for eggs in baking or breading (1 Tbsp ground flax + 3 Tbsp water, mix and let sit 15 minutes in fridge)
- Use aquafaba (chickpea water) to get a similarly fluffy result!
- Whipped Cream
- Use agar agar, a seaweed derivative, for thickening similar to gelatin
- Dairy-free yogurts are becoming more and more popular, but if you can’t find any, blend 1 cup silken tofu with 2 Tbsp lemon juice and a pinch of salt
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P.S. Have an awesome vegan tip that’s not listed here? Send me a message and I’ll include it so we can all learn from each other!
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