Vegan shopping list

There’s no doubt veganism is becoming less of a trend and more of a lifestyle choice. Since it launched in 2014, Veganuary (where you give vegan living a go for the month of January) has recruited thousands more each year while many prominent celebrities and sports stars now follow a vegan diet. The rise has increased dramatically in recent years: between 2014 and 2019, the number of people in the UK identifying as vegan quadrupled, and it’s estimated that by the end of 2020, over two million of us will follow a fully vegan diet. So where to begin?

From jackfruit to seitan, aquafaba to tofu, there are some vegan ingredients a lot of us just aren’t familiar with. Whether you’re considering going vegan, want to eat more plant-based protein, or are simply interested in finding out more, our guide to vegan ingredients – and how to use them – is what you need to get started

 

MEAT AND FISH ALTERNATIVES

TOFU

This versatile ingredient, derived from soya beans, has little flavour so can be used in a variety of sweet and savoury dishes. You can find it as a firm block, ideal for chopping into chunks or slices and frying for a crisp edge; or soft and silken, where it can be made into a vegan take on scrambled eggs or used in desserts and sauces. There’s also smoked tofu, which can be eaten hot or cold. Experiment with flavours and recipes

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JACKFRUIT

Cooked unripe jackfruit has a texture similar to slow-cooked pulled pork, which makes it an excellent meat alternative in curries, stir fries, salads and sandwiches. Its mild flavour also makes it the perfect vehicle for spicy sauces and marinades. Buy it canned, then drain and mix the jackfruit with tomato salsa and turn into nachos, baked in the oven with tortilla chips and grated vegan hard cheese. Or try one of the recipes below

SOYA PROTEIN AND MYCOPROTEIN

Soya protein is commonly used as a meat substitute. It makes a great replacement for minced beef or pork and can be turned into vegan meatballs, burgers and sausages. Since it’s made from soya, it has the same health benefits: it’s high in protein, low in fat and a source of fibre. Mycoprotein is found in Quorn’s vegan products; made by fermenting a natural, nutritious fungus, it’s high in fibre and low in saturated fat

SEITAN

Pronounced say-tan, seitan is made from protein-rich wheat gluten, which gives bread its fluffy texture. It’s the basis of many meat alternatives because of its texture and ability to absorb flavours. You’ll find it as burgers, slices, koftas and more

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BEANS AND PULSES

Don’t overlook these basic store cupboard favourites – from lentils to butter beans, these cheap and cheerful ingredients are great sources of plant protein. Rich in vitamins and minerals, they’re also high in fibre so can help you to feel full on a vegan diet

INSTEAD OF EGGS, TRY...

AQUAFABA

The liquid in a can of chickpeas that we’d normally pour down the sink is in fact a very useful egg substitute. When whisked, it will froth and expand as it traps air so can be used to replace egg whites in meringues and marshmallows, and whole eggs in cakes, mayonnaise and Yorkshire puddings. Two tablespoons of aquafaba are equivalent to approximately one egg white, or three tablespoons for one whole egg. You can also buy OGGS aquafaba, which is equivalent to four eggs

INSTEAD OF DAIRY, TRY...

DAIRY-FREE CHEESE ALTERNATIVES

There are lots of cheese substitutes available so you don’t have to miss out on some of your favourite dishes. Use an alternative to soft cheese for creamy sauces and making vegan desserts, and a harder ‘cheese’ for grating over pasta, adding to sandwiches and topping plant-based burgers. Some recipes call for cashew nuts to be soaked overnight, then whizzed to make cashew ‘cream cheese’

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DAIRY-FREE MILK ALTERNATIVES

You’ll be spoilt for choice with the ever growing variety of milk substitutes on the market derived from nuts, soya, hemp and oats. Find your favourite and have it on hand for cooking, pouring over cereal and for stirring into tea and coffee. Many are fortified with vitamins and minerals including calcium. Pick an unsweetened variety if you’re watching your sugar intake

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FLAVOUR ENHANCERS

Certain ingredients are useful to keep in your vegan store cupboard for adding instant flavour to dishes which might otherwise be lacking in body. An obvious choice is soy sauce for adding that deep salty hit, and for extra depth try miso paste, mushroom paste – or dried mushrooms – and nutritional yeast

MISO PASTE

This traditional Japanese seasoning is made from fermented soy beans and is more versatile than you might think. It’s great for marinades and dressings, brushing over vegetables before roasting or grilling, and stirring into soups and noodle dishes

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