Warning: Super long post.
I went vegan cold turkey one night and I was faced with a difficult question:
“What am I supposed to eat now?”
I was used to a typical North American diet, so I was out of my comfort zone.
My gut told me: Go to Whole Foods.
I had no clue what to buy, so I aimlessly wandered around and eventually picked out a few things.
This guide is my attempt to save you from that struggle. A guide with over 70 vegan foods that you can find at Whole Foods. Mine might be a bit different than yours, but I’m sure you’ll see most of these (or close substitutes).
It’s long enough as it is, so I omitted “obvious” foods like fruits, vegetables, and normal pasta.
Table of Contents
Vegan Prepared Food
I.E. – Vegan Meats and Dairy Alternatives
Like most grocery stores nowadays, there’s a pretty standard vegan-friendly section by the lettuce and other produce.
The one at Whole Foods is a bit better than some other grocery stores.
Veganaise “vegan mayonaise”: There are several varieties of vegan mayo at Whole Foods, all made by the well-known Earth Island brand.
Vegan non-dairy milks: Nothing special compared to most grocery stores here. You’ll find the usual selection of SoFresh and Silk almond milks, and a few others. These are located close to the dairy milks in a refrigerated section, far from the vegan section area.
There are also some non-dairy creamers for coffee, which can also be used as a vegan heavy cream substitute in a pinch.
Daiya cheeses: You’ll find both shredded and block Daiya cheese, and probably some Earth Island blocks as well. These are the most widely available vegan cheeses, and a pretty good substitute for dairy cheese.
Chao cheese slices: These are my personal favorites when it comes to making things like grilled cheese sandwiches and melts. See my vegan cheese melting experiment for the best brands.
Daiya vegan yogurt (and others): One of the best vegan yogurt selections I’ve found in a grocery store. They have Daiya, Yoso, and a few other lesser known brands of vegan yogurt (mainly coconut and almond).
There isn’t as much selection for vegan butter as you might think.
Earth Balance Butter: Vegan butter is pretty much the only vegan substitute that is nearly impossible to tell the difference from the original (I couldn’t at least).
There are multiple flavors of Earth Balance vegan butter at Whole Foods, found in the dairy fridges near the yogurt and milks. I don’t consider Earth Balance to be vegan, but some vegans do, I’ll let you decide for yourself.
Note that they are not all beside each other, although they are in the same area.
Vegan Meat Alternatives
You’ll find most of the meat alternatives in another vegan friendly section near the produce, although it may not be right beside the vegan cheeses.
The rest of the products in this section are in one of the frozen food aisles, which is far away in the store.
Note that most of these products are quite expensive, so while fine at first while adjusting to a vegan diet, you eventually want to start eating more legumes and other foods for protein to keep your food costs down.
Somehow I forgot to take pictures of tofu, but there’s plenty of tofu at Whole Foods, ranging from soft to extra firm. I like extra firm tofu for the most part, but some recipes (like vegan sour cream alternatives) call for silken tofu that you’ll need to blend.
Tofurky “chicken”: Tofurky is a well known vegan brand. They sell a few small boxes of mock chicken that can be added to salads, pitas, etc. directly in place of actual chicken.
Tofurky deli slices: Tofurky also offers mock deli slices, which are usually vegan “ham” or “bologna”. Sometimes you’ll find vegan pepperoni here as well, although in my experience it’s not always stocked.
Yves falafel balls and quinoa bites: Yves is another great vegan company who makes a variety of vegan meat alternatives. You’ll find falafel balls and quinoa bites in this section as well in small packages.
Yves sausages and hot dogs: This is also the area where you’ll find vegan sausages and hot dogs. Whole Foods has both Yves and Tofurky (you can see at the bottom of the picture a bit) versions of these.
Yves ground crumble and turkey: Yves also makes small packs of ground round (mock ground beef) and a few patties that you should be able to find in the same section as all of the above.
Tempeh: Tempeh, if you’re not aware, is fermented soybeans (tofu is not fermented). Tons of protein, and pretty versatile.
There are both unflavored and flavored ones you can buy in packs. Personally, I don’t think the flavored ones taste great, and prefer to buy the unflavored ones and add sauces to it at home.
Yves “chicken” nuggets: Over to the frozen foods section of the store, which for me is almost at the opposite end of the Tofurky products, there are mutliple Yves products that include vegan chicken nuggets. They also have kale & quinoa bites, but these don’t have much protein.
Amy’s Tofu Scramble: Also in the freezer aisles are Amy’s tofu scramble breakfast wraps. If you’re used to eggs in the morning, this is an easy substitute, albeit more expensive.
Tofurky gravy: This was a bit hidden away in the frozen aisles for me, but there is vegan gravy.
Gardein chicken and ground: Gardein seems to be regarded as the best company at making convincing vegan meat replicates. You’ll find these in the freezer aisles together, and can usually find their mock ground beef, mock chicken, and mock fish fillets.
SoL Burgers: SoL mainly makes bean burgers, and their my favorite type of vegan bean burger that I’ve tried so far. You’ll find several types in the freezer sections, I highly recommend their bean burgers over the quinoa or potato versions.
Amy’s and Yves Burgers: There are also vegan burgers made by Hilary’s and Yves if you’d like more options, along with Yves veggie corn dogs.
Cereal and Breakfast
If you look at the ingredients of most cereals, you’ll realize they’re accidentally vegan (e.g. some Cheerios versions and Cinnamon Toast Crunch). You mainly just have to watch out for things like honey.
Whole Foods also has some other ones that are a bit hard to find elsewhere.
Organic 365 Cereals: I can’t say for certain that all Organic 365 products are vegan, but almost all of them are.
They have brown rice cereals (like Rice Krispies), peanut butter balls, Morning “O’s”, and more. Since Amazon bought Whole Foods, you can browse and order these online.
One Degree Sprouted Oat Cereals: Not many stores here carry One Degree products. They make the only cereal I’ve seen that is vegan and made from sprouted ingredients.
Oats and Granolas
There are tons of oats at Whole Foods, just like any other store, so I’ll go through this section briefly. Just about every oat product is vegan. You’ll find them mostly in a single aisle.
Bulk granolas: All Whole Foods that I’ve been to have a great bulk section. Besides nuts and grains, you’ll also find various granolas. Not all are vegan, but some are, just check the label.
Hemp Hearts: Hemp is one of the best vegan omega 3 sources, and also good for protein. Hemp Hearts are just unshelled hemp seeds that you can add to salads, toast, etc. You can find them at Whole Foods, but they’re much cheaper at Costco if you have one of those nearby.
Vegan waffles: While making this guide I found out that many frozen waffle products are vegan, just check the label.
Vegan jelly: I included this in the breakfast section because I wasn’t sure where else it fit. Most jellies, especially the higher quality ones are vegan. I check multiple brands at Whole Foods, and they were all vegan. You’ll find them close to the oats and peanut butter sections.
Here’s my guide to vegan jelly and jam if you’re interested.
Grains and Pasta
Like I said, I’ve tried to avoid the most obvious things that you already know are vegan (like oatmeal), and tried to only include the things that some people might not think about.
The Bulk Section
Whole Foods has a great bulk section, with plenty of grains.
Groats, wheat berries, and farro: Farro is one of my favorite things that I discovered after going vegan, it’s a grain with a chewy, slightly nutty texture. Most of the grains in the bulk section are organic, and kind of expensive. You can find packaged ones (usually Bob’s Red Mill) in the aisles if you prefer.
Flax and chia seeds: Flax and chia seeds are both great for vegan sources of omega 3 fatty acids. They are reasonably priced, but still a little expensive in the bulk section due to being organic. You can find them at other bulk stores for cheaper. Note that ground flax seeds can go bad, so don’t buy too much.
Let’s head on over to the bread section of Whole Foods.
Sprouted tortillas: Silver Hills sprouted tortillas are all vegan-friendly.
Sourdough and Rye breads: Just about every sourdough and rye bread that you find at any grocery store will be vegan. At Whole Foods, there are multiple pre-sliced and packaged vegan loafs you can buy, as well as freshly baked ones.
Morning Rounds buns: There are several other breads in this section that are also vegan, including these little buns. Most “sprouted” products are also vegan, you’ll find sprouted loaves and hamburger buns as well.
Note that some of the freshly baked bread is also vegan. The baguettes are vegan (at my Whole Foods at least).
Again, most typical pasta noodles and sauces are obviously vegan, so I’m ignoring them.
Daiya Mac and Cheese: This is the best store-bought substitute for Kraft Dinner that you’ll find. Not a perfect substitute, and much more expensive, but if you’re really craving Mac and Cheese it’s pretty good.
You’ll typically find it in the baking/oat aisles, away from the rest of the pasta, so you might have to search for it a bit.
Chickpea and legume pasta: In the normal pasta section, you should find a small section of specialty pasta made from legumes like lentils, black beans, and chickpeas. These are decent substitutes for regular pasta noodles (though not quite the same texture), but have extra protein.
Beans and Rice
Whole Foods has a whole aisle dedicated to bags of rice and cans of beans. Again, I’m just including a few things you might not think about your first few times at Whole Foods here.
Bulk lentils: Back to the bulk section, you can find both normal and sprouted lentils. Sprouted legumes digest better and can be easier on your stomach, which can be important when switching to a vegan diet.
Sprouted lentils: You can also find sprouted lentils and chickpeas in small bags. It’s way cheaper to sprout your own legumes at home, but while it’s pretty easy, I understand if it seems overwhelming at first. These packages are great if you don’t want to worry about that yet.
Amy’s Soups: In the soup aisle you’ll find a few vegan products like vegetable broth. Amy’s also makes a bunch of soups, a few of which are also vegan. The lentil ones are awesome and come in non-BPA cans.
Whole Foods has tons of vegans snacks (here are some vegan snack ideas for work).
You’ll find nuts and snacks mostly in the bulk section, and in a couple aisles dedicated to snacks.
Marshmallows: Dandies makes vegan marshallows, free of gelatin. Not sure why that makes them so much more expensive, but it’s still an option if you’re missing marshmallows.
Chocolate bars: Whole Foods carries quite a few dark and fair trade chocolate bars that are vegan-friendly. To re-iterate, you’ll find these in their own section in a snack aisle, not at the cashier.
Look for dark chocolate bars, especially the following brands:
- 365 Essentials
Vegan jello mix: In the baking aisle, you should be able to find Simply Delish “jel dessert” packages, that look quite a bit like “Jell-O”. The only difference is that these are vegan, as demonstrated with the clear label on the front of the box.
Vegan gummy bears: Back to the bulk sections, you’ll find 2 different types of gummy bears. One is NOT vegan, but one is clearly labeled “organic vegan gummies”. If the “sale” signs are every covering up the ingredients, you can lift them up to double check that you’re picking the right ones.
Dark chocolate covered nuts: Most dark chocolate products are vegan friendly. In the bulk section, you’ll find dark chocolate almonds, raisins, and cranberries.
Organic jelly beans: Also in the bulk section you can find organic jelly beans, which have no gelatin and are suitable for vegans. (Or there are some vegan jelly beans you can buy online from elsewhere).
Veggie “chips”: Still in the bulk section, you can also find a few veggie chip and cracker mixes that are completely vegan.
Coconut clusters and chips: Leaving the bulk section and going to the snack aisles, there are multiple coconut chip/cluster products, all beside each other. It’s hard to miss them.
Roasted chickpeas and peas: Right beside the coconut clusters, you should find roasted peas and chickpeas. These taste awesome, but are pretty expensive. Good once in a while if you’re lazy or if you always burn your chickpeas like me.
Trail mix: Still in the snack aisle, look for the trail mixes. Prana is a brand in my Whole Foods that makes a vegan trail mix.
Crackers (Many brands): Originally I took pictures of all the cracker products, but it was just too many. The majority of crackers in the cracker aisle are vegan friendly, just check the ingredients.
Here’s a list of vegan brands to look out for:
- Mary’s Organic Crackers
- Blue Diamond Nut Thins
- Breton Sprouted Grains and Original
- Oh My Yummies
- CrunchMaster Multi-Seed
Kale chips: Kale chips taste great and are reasonably healthy. The only issue is that they are relatively expensive, because a whole pack has barely any calories. But a good vegan snack if you’re sick of the pure junk food.
In the “chips” aisles
Near the end of the typical walking pattern you should find a final chip/snack aisle.
Popcorn: Most popcorns are vegan, especially the “salt” ones. They’re also pretty cheap.
Pretzels: Pretzels are another cheap snack that are also almost always vegan, even without trying to be. Whole Foods has a few different brands to choose from.
Chips: Many chip brands are vegan (e.g. some Doritos are vegan), so many that I can’t list them all. You’ll find several options at Whole Foods. Typically you want to avoid the ones are cheddar or sour cream flavored.
Harvest Snaps: Harvest Snaps are a relatively healthy snack in the chip aisle made from green peas. Check the ingredients, because some flavors are vegan, and some are not.
Rice cakes: A bit boring, but if you want a low calorie snack, Whole Foods has multiple types of rice cakes that are vegan-friendly.
Most grocery stores have a couple of these, but not the same variety as Whole Foods, which has a ton of store-bought vegan desserts. You’ll find most of these in the non-dairy freezer section.
Daiya cheesecake and Live cakes: There are multiple flavors of Daiya cheesecake, as well as Live refrigerated cakes.
So Delicious Coconut Ice Cream: So Delicious makes several flavors of coconut and cashew ice cream. These are in the non-dairy aisle and pretty easy to find.
The selection of non-dairy ice cream seems to change a lot over time. Sometimes there are several brands, other times just one or two. It’s not reliable.
Sweets From the Earth Cakes: For some reason, these are located in the freezer next to the bread section, which is across the store from the rest of the deserts in this section. Sweets From the Earth makes several vegan products, including a few different refrigerated cakes.
Coconut Bliss fudgesicles and popsicles: I’m not exactly sure what to call these, but they’re some sort of ice cream sticks. Whole Foods has a whole little section of Coconut Bliss products next to the vegan ice creams.
Fake oreos: There are a few types of cookies back in the snack aisles that make what look a lot like Oreos. This includes the ones pictured below and Essentials 365. Oreos are vegan in some countries, but many consider them not to be vegan in other countries due to using palm oil, but that’s a topic for another time.
There are also a few other vegan cookies. Look for “Enjoy life” mini cookies and Sweets from the Earth cookies.
General Baking and Cooking
In the same area as the non-dairy frozen desserts above, there are also some other vegan products close by.
You’ll also find some vegan baking products in the baking aisle (like nutritional yeast).
Daiya pizza: For now, Daiya frozen pizzas are the only vegan pizzas I see on a regular basis. They taste pretty good, especially for a frozen pizza, but are obviously not quite the same as what you would have had before.
Pizza dough: In the freezer section close to the ice cream, there should be a little baking section. This will have frozen pizza dough in it that is vegan friendly.
Wholly Wholesome pie crust: Right by the pizza dough, you’ll also find vegan pie crusts and puff pastry/
Vegan pizza crust: You can find non-frozen pizza crust back in the bread section. Again, 365 makes a vegan crust.
Vegan sugar: Sugar is a controversial topic when it comes to veganism. For now, I’ll just say that if you want organic, fair-trade sugar, Whole Foods has it in the baking aisle.
Vegan pancake mix: Also in the baking aisle, you should be able to find Castle Kitchen’s vegan pancake and waffle mix.
Here are a few other vegan foods that I wasn’t sure where to put.
Barbecue sauce: Many barbecue sauces are vegan, and there are several at Whole Foods that are. Neal Brothers (pictured below) is one of several brands. You’ll find these close to the rice and pasta aisles.
Kimchi and sauerkraut: Back to the tofu area by the produce, you’ll find kimchi and sauerkraut, most of which are vegan-friendly.
Miso paste: Also near the kimchi is miso paste, which is good for Asian-style soups. If you’re like me and have never had miso before, I recommend the lighter ones (yellow or white), which are mild. The darker ones (usually red) have a much stronger smell and taste.
Amy’s bowls: In the freezer aisles, there are a few Amy’s products that happen to be vegan. The quinoa and black bean bowls are vegan, and can be bought for easy lunches if cooking a bunch of new foods together seems intimidating.
Daiya salad dressing: By the rice and beans, you should find a small salad dressing aisle.
There are multiple flavors of Daiya that are naturally vegan, but also a few other brands like Bragg and Drew’s that have vegan salad dressings.
Vitamin B12 is the only essential supplement that vegans should take. Whole foods has B12 from natural Factors that specifically states that they are suitable for vegans (not all B12 supplements are).
I also came across multiple multi-vitamins that appear to be vegan friendly, although it’s hard to know for sure.
Sisu and Aor multivitamins both say they are “vegetarian capsules”, and are both very expensive. You can probably find cheaper ones online somewhere.
3,000+ words and 70+ pictures later and we’re here.
Hopefully this was helpful and I didn’t walk around Whole Foods taking pictures like a weirdo for over an hour for nothing!
If there are any big difference between my Whole Foods and yours, I’d be interested in hearing about them in the comments below.