The Best Vegan Products on the Market According to Someone Who’s Been Vegan for 12 Years
I have been vegan for a whopping twelve years now, and it blows my mind how easy it is to go vegan (or plant-based) now compared to when I started. Long gone are the days of soaking cashews for eight hours, scouring grocery stores for staples more exciting than plain tofu and hemp milk, and spending a quarter of my day preparing a simple dinner that only takes 15 minutes to eat. Being plant-based used to be a process, but now it’s pretty dang easy to live a delicious, fulfilling “plantiful life” with an abundance of options.
I wanted to go vegan when I was a kid because I loved animals and the planet — the health aspect hadn’t really entered my mind yet, but I did hate the idea of cow’s milk and refused to drink it. There was one super expensive health food store in my town that offered rice milk and soy bars that I used to beg my mom to go to, but it wasn’t feasible for our budget to get groceries there very often.
Ultimately, I had to wait until I was an adult to explore going vegan. Even then, transitioning into a fully plant-based life had some difficulties — especially convincing my friends that eating plants was not only good for you and the planet, but also delicious. One night, about ten years ago, I invited my non-vegan friends over for a healthy, yummy, raw vegan dinner that had taken me most of my day off to prepare. With guests arriving shortly, my last step was to make zoodles from four large organic zucchinis I’d gotten at the store earlier. Long story short, I turned towards the sink for a couple seconds before I heard a crash; my puppy had jumped up and managed to eat all four zucchinis’ worth of zoodles in about three seconds flat. The doorbell rang. “Sorry guys, we’re having spaghetti tonight.” The fancy raw dinner I had promised my guests was ruined. The problem wasn’t my sweet puppy but that store-bought zoodles did not exist yet. I couldn’t just run to the store and grab a container. The time and energy spent just wasn’t worth it nor conducive to a busy lifestyle.
That brings us to today. With tens of thousands of vegan products readily available at grocery stores everywhere, going vegan has never been easier. My partner, once a typical midwest carnivore, decided two years ago that his love for animals didn’t align with eating them, and decided to go vegetarian, but chose to give being vegan a chance — I think it looked appealing since he lives with me and he sees me eat and order vegan foods with no stress.
I was almost jealous at the ease with which he transitioned into a plant-based life — no soaking, straining, starving, driving 45 minutes to eat out at the one vegan restaurant (which was awful and bland)… he had thousands of choices at his disposal, even at the bodega on our block. It was actually really fun watching him try everything he could get his hands on, with new products showing up every day, and options for every dietary need.
Here’s a look into my kitchen for some of our go-to staples, available in shops and online.
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These local-to-New York dawgs are made from vegetables, chickpeas, and a variety of alternative flours, and is probably the least-processed store-bought vegan hot dog available. They are hand-rolled and created by Chef Marina Bendetto, a former youth homeless shelter counselor who believes in creating familiar, accessible, nourishing food to heal people. Not only do these dawgs taste amazing, but you’ll actually feel good after — and feel good about eating them.
(Yeah Dawg Vegan Hot Dog; $13.99)
Field Roast sausages have to be one of my all-time favorites. Low-calorie, protein-dense, and delicious, these are great on their own, mixed into sauces or sautes, or even just thrown in a panini press and sliced with a little spicy mustard to watch the big game. I also love the chorizo version and the maple apple mini breakfast sausages.
(Field Roast Italian Sausage; $6.29)
I already mentioned zoodles, but have you tried butternut squash noodles? Butternut squash noodles are a great pasta substitute and packed full of dietary fiber, vitamins A, B, C, potassium and magnesium. Try a bowl of them with this bowl recipe.
These delightful little “omelets” are a game changer. I love to pop one of these in my toaster oven and eat it on its own or in a low carb wrap. It’s quick, easy, has a great texture, and packs only 100 calories and 7g of protein. There’s also a liquid version that can be used for a variety of different dishes, but I find the frozen version to be the most convenient and little to no clean up.
(Just Egg Folded Plant Egg; $4.71)
I’m typically more of a seitan person, but my partner absolutely lives on Lightlife tempeh. He loves to cut it up and throw it in the air fryer before mixing it into his famous “whatever is in the fridge” saute. I prefer to toast it and throw it in a wrap with avocado, tomato, arugula, and everything but the bagel seasoning. It’s a great source of protein, has a nutty flavor, and it’s very versatile for whatever kind of dish you’re craving.
(Lightlife tempeh; $3.59)
Minimal ingredients, great flavor, great texture. Where other faux taco crumbles fall short, Very Good Butchers got it right. With 16g of protein and 150 calories per serving, you can’t go wrong on your next taco night — no additional spices necessary. It works great in Siete tortillas or as the protein to a low-carb taco salad.
(Very Good Butchers Taco Stuff’er; $8.99)
Pizza isn’t an everyday meal, but when you want a little comfort food, Miyoko’s liquid mozzarella is by far the best vegan cheese out there for pizza, imo. For my comfort food take on a neapolitan pizza, I slice up an english muffin, top with a tablespoon of marinara, a tablespoon of cheese, and a dash of oregano before throwing in my toaster oven until bubbly and crispy. Also worth checking out are their butters and cream cheese.
(Miyoko’s Liquid Mozzarella; $6.99)
This is my favorite pepperfauxni I’ve ever had. They cook, they crisp, they come ready to eat, and have 14g of protein at only 90 calories, and only 6 carbs. Based out of Nashville, TN, this product was developed by a group of friends who expanded their small deli into a much larger faux meat production, which is good news for us — you can now find their products in stores and restaurants all over the country. Impress your friends with a delicious vegan charcuterie board, or even add on top of the toaster oven “pizza” mentioned above.
(Be Hive Pepperoni; $8 per pack)
I love these mini six-ingredient chocolate chip cookies. They’re chewy, low-sugar, and keto- and vegan-friendly for when you’re craving a sweet treat but don’t want to stray from your diet plan. And the best part; They’re packed in eco-friendly, compostable clamshells.
This plant-based parmesan adds an extra pizazz to any meal. I use this on zoodle pasta, in soup, sandwiches… the works. My go-to post weightlifting quick wrap includes two tablespoons of 365 parm on top of Black Magic seasoned seitan chik’n with a cup of chopped kale or arugula. A great alternative available at most grocery stores is Follow Your Heart Vegan Parmesan Shreds.
(365 Non Dairy Parmesan Cheese; $4.99)
Elmhurst has a creamy texture, nutty flavor, and I like that there are only three ingredients in this oat milk: Filtered water, whole grain oats, and salt. It’s great in coffee, tea, and smoothies. And for a really solid alternative, consider Califa Farms unsweetened oat milk.
(Elmhurst 1925 Milked Oats Oat Milk; $5.99)
I love my almond milk, and I especially love my almond milk unsweetened. For a basic, use-in-anything, no-sugar-added, great-bang-for-your-buck almond milk, this one takes the vegan cake. Great flavor, subtle nuttines… if this is too processed for you or otherwise doesn’t float your boat, a simple three-ingredient alternative is Malk unsweetened almond milk, and it’s only two dollars more.
(365 Organic Unsweetened Almond Milk; $3.29)
I love snacking, but snacking isn’t always healthy. Rather than reach for potato chips or dried mango (which usually has a ton of sugar added), my new go-to is a bag of baked apple chips. Their only ingredient: Apples, that’s it. Simple, nostalgic, delicious, and satisfies your snacking cravings.
(Bare Apple Chips; $4.79)
For whenever you want an alternative to fancy cheese plates, check this brand out. Their cheeses are rich, creamy, and make you not even miss animal milk cheese. This is an organic fermented cashew cheese made without a bunch of processed ingredients. My favorite is the chipotle cheddar flavor, and my partner loves their Un-brie-lievable flavor, which is their version of brie (naturally).
(Nuts for Cheese Chipotle Cheddar; $9.99)
When you’re seriously craving pasta and low-carb vegetable noodles just aren’t going to cut it, give this gluten-free, sugar-free (definitely not carb-free) linguine a go. They’re made out of cauliflower, potato, and a few alternative flours, so check the ingredient list to see if these align with your specific diet. These bad boys are ready to eat in three minutes, which helps alleviate meal time stress. Top with a little truffle olive oil and sea salt to really treat yourself.
(Calipower Cauliflower Linguine; $5.99)
Not everyone wants a protein shake, but if you do, this has been my favorite on-the-go shake I’ve tried. With 35g of plant based flavor at 230 calories, it can be fit into any diet or meal plan. I like the chocolate flavor, because, well, chocolate. If you don’t need or want that much protein, I love Orgain Unsweetened Vanilla Almond milk-10g of protein at 80 calories, and perfect to use in a matcha latte or turmeric latte.
(Elite Owyn Protein Shake; $45.99 for a 12 pack)
Last, but certainly not least, if you really want to take all the guesswork out of transitioning to a plant-based diet, check out Territory Foods. I supplement my cooking with their meals several times a week and they’re all great. Some of my favorites are the Tempeh Bolognese with Spaghetti Squash, Chili Lime Tofu with Cauliflower Rice and Ranchero Sauce, and the Tofu Bibimbap with Gochujang sauce. Their menus change weekly, with a variety of filters for specific dietary preferences and allergens. You can skip a week, pause orders, or cancel anytime.
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