It can be a little confusing when you first try to shop vegan. What can you buy? What can’t you buy? Do you have to buy everything from the free from aisle? Isn’t it expensive?
I’ve been shopping vegan for quite a long time now, and over the years have learnt a lot about where to find great vegan food and get the most for your money. For this post, I’ll take you through the day, giving you advice on what you can buy and eat!
Ah, breakfast. The most important meal of the day. Or is it? Well, there’s no real consensus on this, and to be honest I’m not a huge breakfast person – or a morning person at all, really! But I have a husband who is, and besides, you can eat breakfast food at other parts of the day, right?
The one major breakfast problem is cereal. A lot of cereals are artificially fortified with vitamins, specifically Vitamin D – which often (but not always) is animal derived, coming from lanolin, which is an oil found in sheep’s wool. So when you look at some of the major cereal brands, even some supermarket brands, and see the ingredient “vitamin D” – it’s not likely to be vegan. Can vitamin D be vegan? Yes. Usually if it is, it’ll specify – or it’ll be marked as “Vitamin D2” which is a non animal derived version.
There’s a huge list of vegan cereals here on the Vegan Womble, a great website for finding new vegan food! My personal advice would be to shop at “budget” supermarkets such as Lidl or Aldi, who don’t fortify their cereals. That way if you find a cereal that doesn’t contain milk, eggs, or honey, it’ll be vegan – and they have a really big selection, from cornflakes and rice crispies (which I used in my Rocky Roads) to granola, cookie crisp cereal, and much more!
For milk to have with your cereal, you have so much choice these days! The cheapest option is usually soya milk, which you can buy the supermarket own brand of, in sweetened or unsweetened variety. Remember though, if you want to use the milk for cooking (such as in pasta), you want to use unsweetened! If you don’t like the taste of soya milk, try something different! Almond milk and Oat milk are popular, as are coconut milk and many other types of dairy-free milk. You can even get vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry flavours now. Try to look for offers such as in the photo above – 2 for £2 – this will save you money.
If you’re not a cereal fan then there are plenty of other choices! Toast – most bread is vegan, just skim the ingredients for milk, egg, or honey. Some brands, like Kingsmill, say “suitable for vegetarians and vegans” on the back, which is great! Jam is also in general vegan, as is peanut butter – so a PBJ toast would be a nice breakfast. Morrisons have a vegan chocolate spread which I will say is absolutely lovely. And finally, Jus-Rol croissants, pain-au-chocolat, and cinnamon rolls are vegan and make for a decadent, tasty breakfast!
Lunch is not too difficult, I find. You can even buy vegan sandwiches in several supermarkets now! But if you’d like to make your own, remember as I said above, most bread is vegan. For spread, the two main brands are Pure and Vitalite – I tend to buy whichever is on offer at the supermarket. Don’t be fooled by supermarket “sunflower spread” or “olive spread” – unless it specifically says “dairy free”, it usually has milk in. The Vegan Society has a huge list of sandwich filling ideas, too!
There are also a lot of vegan crisps out there – including some you’d not expect, like many “bacon rasher” crisps, which don’t actually contain bacon at all. Beware of Walkers crisps meaty varieties because they recently started putting actual meat in them – but many other of theirs are vegan.
If you’re more of a dinner-for-lunch person, or a leftovers person, hang on till the next section where you’ll discover some dinner ideas!
If you’re stuck for what to have for dinner, have you not been reading this blog?! Ha, but seriously, there are loads of vegan recipes out there and a lot of them are actually quite simple! I try to keep mine easy, at least (partly because I am a little lazy myself). If you don’t fancy cooking much yourself, there’s still a lot you can buy. Pesto – in the free from aisle of supermarkets, not the regular aisles (pesto often has cheese in). Tesco now has their own brand vegan pesto which is cheaper than branded stuff! Stir this through pasta for a quick and easy meal. Linda McCartney do a huge range of vegan products, from “chicken” and “duck” to burgers, sausages, and pies. These are excellent to serve with some vegetables. Quorn also now have a vegan range, look for the green “Vegan” corner on their packets to see what you can have! And finally – many supermarkets now have vegan cheese. Tesco and Sainsbury’s even have their own make! This is great for serving with jacket potato, grating on top of pasta, or just having in a toastie.
Ah, my speciality. Stay tuned for a post solely on chocolate later in the month, but today we’ll talk about snacks. I’ve already mentioned crisps earlier in the post, so this’ll focus on sweet things.
Sweets themselves often have gelatine in, which is made from animal bones and is gross. So, you need to look for vegetarian/vegan versions. Thankfully, this is much easier than it used to be! Skittles and Starbursts (formerly Opal Fruits) are both now vegan! You can also buy “fruit jellies” in most supermarkets and sweet shops, including places like Wilko’s, and Marks & Spencer actually have a large range of vegan sweets.
For chocolatey snacks, Raspberry Ruffles are one of the most popular and cheapest – think a Bounty Bar only raspberry flavoured. You can buy them in bars or in little wrapped chocolate packets. Choices Caramel chocolates are a great gift – they’re little chocolate truffles that taste of caramel, and are really nice. Tesco now do their own version of them. Talking of Tesco, they also have chocolate buttons and bars in their Free From section that are vegan – including white chocolate! Many supermarkets will have fairly cheap vegan chocolate in their free from section too.
I hope this helps a little bit with shopping vegan – and if you need any more advice, please talk to me and I will be glad to help! Also, check out The Vegan Womble website for many supermarket “vegan lists”, and also the @accidentallyveganuk instagram page, for treats that are vegan in the supermarkets.