27 Jun 2019
There are two main approaches to a vegan diet: surviving and thriving. Surviving usually dictates eating bland, vegan-approved meals and viewing it as a strict diet while thriving entails savoring a vegan lifestyle and embracing the expansive possibilities.
You’ll find vegans on both sides of the fence—our goal with this article is to get more on the thriving lifestyle side as opposed to the restrictive diet side. Obviously, thriving is more enjoyable than merely surviving, but you’ll need a well-stocked kitchen to keep your vegan options fresh and exciting.
Along with the typical savory and sweet items every kitchen needs, there are several ingredients you’ll find especially useful while pursuing a vegan lifestyle. Whether you want to add flavor, texture, or protein-galore to your meals, the following ingredients are vegan essentials to always have available in your vegan-friendly kitchen.
9 Vegan Essentials to Keep Stocked
These vegan essentials were chosen based on their nutritional value, flavor, versatility, and shelf life. The objective is to make your life as simple as possible by limiting your trips to the grocery store. Some options will have shorter expiration dates, but they’re an unbeatable source of vegan protein. Learn more below (no spoilers...get it?):
Grains can be used to enrich the primary component of your dish or seasoned perfectly to steal the show. You’re the cook—you decide! Go beyond the basics of white and brown rice and add quinoa, oats, rye, barley, whole wheat, and more to your cooking repertoire.
Sure, the classic pinto, black, and kidney beans (plus chickpeas) are fantastic additions to just about any dish—but you can really spice things up with lentils. There are a variety of lentils that’ll keep your dishes fresh and titillating, and they can be used in salads, soups, or as a side. The only limit is your imagination.
When you need on-the-go vegan protein, it’s hard to beat the flavor and convenience of nuts. Plus, cooked or raw, they’re downright delicious. Almonds, cashews, peanuts, walnuts, pistachios—whatever is your favorite, keep it stocked in the kitchen. This extends to nut butters, too, so start experimenting and see what fits your taste and budget.
Tempeh is a soy-based cake-like food that is a revered source of vegan protein. It’ll only keep for a week or two in the fridge, but it can last months in the freezer. Once you learn to cook with it, you can add tempeh to a variety of dishes to add an explosion of flavor and macronutrients.
Tofu and tempeh aren’t the same, despite sharing a number of commonalities. Like tempeh, it doesn’t keep for long, but it’s another fantastic source of protein. Tofu is known to take on the flavors that it’s cooked with, making it a versatile component to all of your favorite cuisines.
6. Nutritional Yeast
Nutritional yeast is a condiment for vegan foods that is like ketchup to fried foods. You can put it on just about any savory ingredient to add a cheese-like flavor to the dish. It’s still a new(ish) vegan ingredient, so it takes granola hipster to a whole new level.
7. Maple Syrup
Vegan lifestyles aren’t all just broccoli and rice. There are healthy and yummy ways to satisfy your sweet tooth—and maple syrup can be the natural sweetener to your dessert fantasies. Whether it’s Belgian waffles, pancakes, baked treats, or glazes, maple syrup packs a powerful, all-natural punch of flavor.
8. Coconut Oil
Like other oils, it should be used in moderation, but even a small amount of coconut oil can transform a dish. Drizzle it over some popcorn, use it to sear your tofu, or melt it with some vegetables for a pop of flavor. Coconut oil is the butter of the vegan world, and it’s becoming a go-to even for non-vegans.
9. Ground Flaxseeds
One of the original superfoods, ground flaxseeds are loaded with fiber, Omega-3 fatty acids, and tantalizing texture. Add them to your oatmeal, smoothies, or baked goods for an immediate upgrade to the dish’s nutritional quality.
The Future of Your Vegan Lifestyle
Your kitchen doesn’t need to contain all these vegan essentials—find what resonates best with your cooking style, personal taste, and food allergies and stock up. Continue experimenting and evolving your vegan palette by adding new, yummy ingredients to create exquisite dishes. For example, try a new dessert made with oats and flax seeds. Or try different vegetables cooked with coconut oil.
Likely, you’ll still use at least one or two of these vegan essentials, but don’t limit yourself to the basics. A little spice here and a little seasoning there goes a long way. But consider these essentials the end of your vegan survival and the beginning of your vegan gusto.
If you don’t feel like preparing your own meals ALL the time, Sarefood offers prepared meal delivery for all sorts of diets, including vegan! Check out some of our cost-effective options and give a Sarefood chef a try this week!