Our cupboards... chock full o' vegan goodness!
The Vegan Pantry!

When I first started switching to a vegan diet, I was lucky enough to have many vegan friends to tip me off to tasty brands, new recipes, and fun things to try. These days, I also rely on my online community for hot tips about new vegan products or cooking techniques. There are a lot of really tasty vegan foods out there, and many others that aren't so tasty - and it's helpful to know the wheat from the chaff.

Depending on your tastes, some foods will seem too much like junk-food, and others may seem too "health-nut." It's good to remember that "vegan" doesn't always mean "healthy" - and that's good or bad, depending on what you're after. This page offers photos and descriptions of a number of my favorite products and how I use them...

The Farmers Market
If I could offer only one tip for healthier and more delicious plant-based eating, it would be this: Go to the farmers' market!! Here in Santa Cruz, we are blessed with many year-round markets, and there are always delicious fruits and veggies just waiting to be enjoyed. Eating a vegan diet has encouraged me to broaden my horizon and try out every new fruit and veggie I come across. This has led me to discover a world of new flavors!
Non-dairy Yogurt
There are a lot of different vegan yogurts out there: soy, almond, or coconut. They're all pretty good, so I'd generally say it's a good idea to try them out and find your own favorite. Personally, I mostly prefer unsweetened yogurt, and that can be hard to find for vegans. I really like this one by Whole Soy, and Wildwood also makes unsweetened soy yogurt. This stuff works great for cooking, and if you want to sweeten it up, you can just add a little dollop of jam or something sweet!
Non-Dairy Milks
There are so many kinds of soy milks, rice milks, oat milks, almond milks and so on... They are all a little bit different nutritionally and flavor-wise. It's good to have a variety of milks around so that your intake is more varied, but it's also good to taste a bunch so that you know which ones you prefer for different purposes. You might like some for cereal, some for baking, some for coffee, and so on. Personally, I prefer Wildwood Unsweetened soy milk and Almond Breeze Unsweetened almond milk.
EnerG Egg Replacer
This stuff is a quick and easy way to substitute for eggs when veganizing baked goods. It works for up to 3 eggs, depending on the recipe. Egg substitution takes some fiddling with, and you may not get it right the first time. When I have the time and inclination, I also like to use ground flax seed as an egg substitute: Grind 2 heaping tablespoons of flax seeds until coarse like corn meal. Add 1/3 c. water and blend until thick and viscous. This goop is equal to 2 eggs.
Tofu
There are also a lot of brands of tofu available. It took me a while to warm up to tofu, but now I really love it. I love baked tofu, I love tofu scrambles, tofu in quiches, tofu ricotta... I love it all! I mostly buy either Wildwood Sprouted extra-firm tofu or the local brand Jack & The Beanstalk. Tofus also come in many styles and textures... it's good to find a brand you like. Ideally, look for a brand that is "calcium-rich," or "calcium-set" - as this will give you a lot of calcium too!
Silken Tofu
Silken tofu is good to know about! You can buy the Mori-nu brand, which doesn't even need to be refridgerated (until you open it), so it's an easy way to have some tofu on hand for emergencies! It's very smooth and finely-textured, so it's the right kind of tofu for making creamy mousse or pudding-type desserts. It's also great for breakfast scrambles and for adding to recipes to make sauces creamy (you gotta blend it up). Wildwood brand also makes fresh water-packed silken tofu now, which has become a favorite of mine. Nonetheless, I appreciate the shelf-stable aspect of Mori-nu brand and usually have some on hand.
Vegan Mayo
Really, I'm not big on mayo, and I never have been. But these are my two favorites when a recipe calls for mayonnaise. The Wildwood Aioli very tasty and I mostly use it on our "BLTs," which we enjoy from time to time. However it is also good in seasoned dip recipes that call for mayo or on other savory-type sandwiches. Veganaise is a much-loved brand for those who love mayo. When I need a mayo that's more traditional, I always go for the reduced-fat Veganaise. Because, even vegan mayo is still mayo.
Veggie Burgers
These days, I am more likely to whip up some veggie burgers from scratch, but it sure is nice that there are so many delicious vegan burger options available in the frozen foods sections. My favorites are all made by Amy's brand... especially the California and the All-American. But there are loads of great choices out there - I encourage you to try them all and find your own favorites. Veggie burgers certainly make a quick and delicious weeknight dinner.
Tempeh Bacon
There are a few good choices when it comes to pre-made tempeh bacon. It's also really easy to make tempeh bacon from scratch at home, but if you're looking for short cuts, this is a good way to go. It's super yummy on BLTs or veggie burgers, or even with breakfast!
Tofurky Sausages
Torfurky sausages are one of the few processed foods that I still enjoy indulging in. They are so tasty! I like the Italian Sundried Tomato Sausage and the Bratwurst Sausage. These are flavorful soy protein blasts that are fun to eat. I don't have any fondness for meats of my yesteryear, and I'm not looking for exact replicas. I especially like to have these around for times when I am doing loads of yoga so I can have lots of easy-to-prepare protein on hand.
Amy's Pizza
Amy's actually makes a lot of tasty and reasonably healthy frozen/packaged foods. Frozen and canned foods do tend to be pretty high in sodium, so it shouldn't be a daily event - but it's good for desperate measures, or to have on hand at work... It's certainly healthier than resorting to junk food or incessant snacking. I love this Roasted Veggie pizza... it's so tasty and unusual. I pick up one of these when I'm going to a party where everyone will be eating pizza. Then I'm still part of the scene, and I get to eat something extra tasty. Sometimes I even get two so that I can share with all the curious party-goers. Tofurky brand also makes vegan frozen pizzas now that are pretty good!
Annie's Spread
This stuff is very tasty! It's good for serving at parties as a veggie dip or a cracker spread. It's also good on sandwiches and I especially like it with some chives, salt, and pepper on my baked potatoes. Yummers!
Vegan Ice Cream
Luckily, vegans have a lot of great choices when it comes to ice cream. These days you can find non-dairy ice creams made with coconut, soy, rice, almond, hemp... and who knows what else! I really love Purely Decadent, Coconut Bliss, and Double Rainbow brands. Honestly, I don't eat much ice cream, but I do like it every once in a while. If you're looking for straight up vanilla, I think Double Rainbow is the best bet.
Earth Balance Vegan Spread
This is a fabulous product for baking, enjoying on toast, or anytime a recipe calls for butter. It comes in 2 varieties: The green & white tub is "whipped," and the yellow & red tub is the original. I use the whipped variety for toast or garlic bread because it is organic. I make deliciously naughty sugar cookies with this stuff and they are truly indistinguishable from the original classics.
Tofutti Cuties
Hoorah!! Okay, so here's a perfect example of "vegan" not translating as "healthy." All the same, these tasty little monsters are a great summertime treat. They come in a variety of flavors... the original vanilla ones are still my favorites, although I also like mint chip and chocolate.
Hot Cocoa
I really love hot cocoa, especially in the winter! A lot of hot cocoa mixes come with evaporated milk already in them. These are two good types of hot cocoa mix that are vegan. I use soy milk for this because it's creamier than the other milks. These days I like to mix a little bit of both of these brands and the result is just perfect - not too sweet, not too bitter. I'm also totally in love with the Dagoba Xocolatl hot chocolate!! It's got a little bit of added cinnamon and chile, and a little bit added into the mix really goes a long way!

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Updated January 6, 2013   amey@yogawithamey.com