Veganism or a vegan diet is trending, but due to dietry limitation vegan foods shopping list can be a little challenging, and more and more people want to try it for its health benefits. But the catch is that most of the time, people are so obsessed with meat that after going vegan, they keep trying pseudo-meat options only without understanding the need for diversity in foods. At the same time, some people confuse vegetarian and vegan foods and cannot make a smart choice of vegan foods.
To get all the health benefits associated with a vegan diet, it’s crucial to maintain the right healthy food choices and prepare a complete, diverse vegan foods shopping list. This article will help you to make smart vegan foods shopping list consisting of foods that will complete your daily requirement of essential macro and micronutrients and minerals.
Table of Contents
Fruits and vegetables
Apart from carnivores’ kind of diet, whichever diet plan you pick, all of them will advise you to eat fruits and vegetables. It may be mainly to fulfill the requirement of high fiber for gut health and, ultimately, human body health.
Fruits and vegetables are great choices to add vitamins, minerals, protein, fat, and healthy carbs to your plate. For instance, Avocado is a rich source of healthy fats (15.4 g/100g), fiber (6.8 g/100g), Calcium (12 mg/100g), Magnesium (29 mg/100g), Potassium (507 mg/100g), folate (121 mg), etc.
A review of the effect of fruits and vegetables on the mental health of women found that “there is a positive influence between dietary patterns characterized by high consumption of fruit and vegetables and fruit or vegetable products by women,” however, the relation was not similar in case of vegetarians/vegan. The reason was stated to be the unbalanced way of eating, i.e., high consumption at once and not balancing other times due to exclusion. Therefore, balancing based on dietary requirements should be the top priority .
Soy foods and minimally processed meat substitutes
Soybeans have a long list of versatile dietary-derived products such as Soy meals, Soy chunks, Soy milk, soy oil, soy peptide, soybean dietary fiber, soy curd, and so on . All the products are high in protein, fiber, fat, Vit C, folate, etc.
Tofu made up of Soy milk is easily digestible, has a buttery and smooth texture, contains all nine essential amino acids, and is an excellent source of calcium, iron, selenium, phosphorus, zinc, and vit B1. Tofu acts as a replacement for meat in the vegan foods list, which has enormous health benefits like reducing the risk of heart disease and improving blood flow in patients at risk of stroke. In addition, higher consumption reduces prostate cancer [2, 3].
Mainly animal meat and poultry products are consumed for protein, Vitamins like Vit. B12, minerals, and sensory reasons, but the vegan trend have created room to mimic meat’s nutritional value and sensory features. Therefore, to meet the demand, there is a development of multiple cousins, but the basic components are soy, gluten, and pea protein ingredients . To name some, Tofu, Tempeh, seitan, etc.
Although in the Western world, seaweed may be mainly used as colloids & gelling agents for food, pharmaceuticals, and the cosmetic industry, in Asian countries, it is traditionally used in various dishes. In fact, in the year 600 AD, Sze Teu wrote, “Algae are a delicious delicacy for the most representative guests, even for the king himself.”
Interestingly, they are a good source of protein, minerals, vitamins, dietary fiber, and a higher portion of Eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic (DHA) fatty acids and can be consumed by vegans [7, 10]. EPA and DHA are essential for infant brain development and have promising results in preventing very mild Alzheimer’s disease and weight management .
Chlorella and Spirulina are popularly used in sushi which is also high in protein, iron, and Vitamin B12. Nevertheless, kelp, nori, kombu, and wakame are seaweeds high in Iodine and should be consumed in moderation since iodine is also available from other foods and salts as well and the daily requirement is 150 mcg for adults .
Vegan foods high in calcium
Many people have questioned how we will get calcium if we don’t consume dairy milk. The answer is simple you need to identify the high-calcium sources of your choice from the long list of vegan foods.
For instance, Nuts & seeds, especially almonds, sesame, and chia seeds, has between 250 to 600 mg calcium per 100g; in the case of vegetables, Kale, broccoli, watercress, spinach, and collard green which can provide between 100 to 150 mg per 100g .
Another major source of calcium in a vegan diet is fortification; for example, cereals have approx. 30mg per 100g, but with fortification, it can reach 180 mg per 100g .
Similarly, Calcium fortified Calcium-fortified plant-based milk and yogurts are highly in demand, and a wide variety is available in the market as follows :
Cereal-based: oat milk, Rice milk, Corn milk
Nut-based: Almond milk, Coconut milk, Walnut milk, Hazelnut milk, Pistachio milk
Legume-based: Soy milk, Peanut milk, Lupin milk, Cowpea milk
Seed-based: Sesame milk, Flax milk, Hemp milk, Sunflower milk
Pseudo-cereal based: Quinoa milk, Teff milk, Amaranth milk.
Choline is extremely important for the infant since deficiency can have an adverse effect on the functions related to fetal growth, brain development, and angiogenesis ; therefore, pregnant mothers following vegan should be precautious. The demand for choline is high in both lactating mothers (550mg/day) and pregnant mothers (450 mg/day) .
Besides pregnancy, choline is important to maintain a lower level of homocysteine since its elevation may lead to chronic diseases like cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and cognitive decline .
Therefore, for the fulfillment of the choline, it is crucial to include choline-rich food sources like immature lima beans, Tofu (28.8 mg/100g), Soybeans (107mg/half cup), Kidney beans (45 mg/half cup), Brussels sprouts, broccoli, etc. 
Vegan foods high in protein
Plant-based protein is good enough to cover it all, whether it be weight loss, muscle gain, or environmental and animal welfare. Although people advocate animal protein being more beneficial than plant-based protein on ground source protein doesn’t have any effect on changes in absolute lean mass or muscle strength .
Hence, it doesn’t matter if you are a bodybuilder, a fitness enthusiast, or a person who wants to follow a nutritionally balanced healthy life; you can achieve it all with enough protein food options in a vegan diet plan.
You can plan high-protein vegan meals with brown rice, quinoa, beans, and legumes like Fava beans (26.12 g/100g), chickpeas (19 g/100g), Pinto beans (21 g/100g), Kidney beans (24 g/100g), pink lentils (25 g/100g), and so on.
The presence of anti-nutritional factors (fiber and polyphenolic tannins) in plants degrades the efficiency of plant-based protein absorption; however, the processes right from harvesting to cooking, chewing, and ingestion increase the absorption of intrinsic proteins. Still, while designing the meal plan, an individual must count the quantity based on protein absorbed, not whole protein present in food .
Vegan foods with B12
Vit B12 is a water-soluble vitamin, which upon absorption in the terminal ileum, is used as a cofactor for enzymes involved in synthesizing DNA, fatty acids, and myelin. Therefore, deficiency can lead to neurological and hematological problems .
The deficiency of B12 is primarily seen in people utterly dependent on plants for their nutritional requirements since B12 is highly found in meat products, whereas minimal in plant-based foods .
Therefore, generally, to the full fill the dietary requirement of Vit B12, you need to incorporate foods like Shiitake Mushrooms (3.95-5.61 mcg/100g), Nori seaweed (32.26-63.58 mcg/100g), Klamath microalgae (31-34.27 mcg/100g), Chlorella (200-211 mcg/100g), Spirulina (127.2-244.3 mcg/100g), Tempeh [18, 19]. Apart from these plant-based sources of B12, people also rely on fortified foods like nutritional yeast, tofu, Tempeh, and so on.
Vegan foods high in Omega3
Without any doubt, you must have noticed Omega3 fatty acid supplements derived from fish or fish oils, which doesn’t mean you don’t have plant-based omega3 sources. In fact, there are numerous seeds and nuts, such as flax seeds, rapeseed oil, perilla seed oil, mustard oil, walnuts, Almonds, chia seeds, etc., which contain a high amount of Omega3 .
Many people exclude these nuts and seeds from their diet since they don’t fit into the conventional meal plan. Nevertheless, you can include chia seeds in the smoothies which can be a quick morning breakfast, 3-4 almonds/
walnuts or roasted flax seeds can be included as a mid-time snack.
Vegan foods to increase vitamin D
The only sunshine Vitamin is Vit D, which has been produced on this earth for more than 500 million years. Upon exposure to sunlight, our skin absorbs UV B radiation, and with the help of a series of steps, Vit D induction takes place in our body. But it’s essential to note that the Vit D synthesis from sun rays highly depends upon the season, time of day, skin pigmentation, pollution level, altitude, latitude, etc.; therefore, it’s hard to say sun bath is sufficient for Vit D requirement .
Thus, unlike non-vegan, vegans can’t depend on milk since none of the plant-based milk contains a good amount of Vit D to fulfill the requirement. Moreover, deficiency can lead to the development of brittle bones. Therefore, vegans must depend on mushrooms (450 IU/100g) or fortified foods as the source of Vit D .
In India, due to an increased number of cases of Vit D deficiency, Vit D fortification of staple foods like chapati flour, Maida, and rice flour is undertaken to target children strategically. Similarly, many other staple foods like soy milk, fruit juices, breakfast cereals, sugar, salt, almond milk, etc., are fortified with Vit D and can essentially provide dietary requirements for vegan diet plan followers .
Vegan foods high in iron
Iron plays a role in oxygen transportation and energy formation. Our body cannot secrete Iron but recycle and reutilize the iron. Although the body recycles iron, some are lost on daily bases; thus, we need to replenish lost iron through foods .
There are many plant-derived foods such as lentils, chickpeas, beans, tofu, cashew nuts, chia seeds, ground linseed, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, kale, dried apricots and figs, raisins, quinoa, and fortified breakfast cereal are the source of iron [24, 25].
Vegan foods high in calcium
Interestingly, only 1% of calcium most abundant mineral in the human body, circulates in the body, and 99% is found in bone and teeth. For healthy bone health, it is emphasized to consume ample amounts of source calcium along with Vit K and B12 since bone metabolism is multifactorial and complex.
The significant sources of calcium include green leafy vegetables like Choy, broccoli, napa cabbage, kale, etc., fortified plant milk, tofu, dried fig, sesame seeds, tempeh, almonds, beans, etc. 
Along with the consumption of these foods, it’s important to check various factors affecting the absorption of calcium in the body since, more than consumption, how much is absorbed is essential .
A vegan diet is a lifestyle where you depend entirely on plant-based foods. Therefore, choose an adequate amount and type of vegan foods; it’s pretty crucial to understand which vegan foods are high in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, Calcium, iron, Vit D, and most importantly, vegan foods with B12. Mainly, vegan diet planners struggle to pick up the vegan foods high in Vit D and B12 since the primary sources are meat and poultry, which are not allowed in a vegan diet.