A well-stocked pantry is the secret weapon of every tasty kitchen. Here are some vegan essentials to keep on hand to make it easy to feed your family delicious and healthy cruelty-free meals at a moment’s notice:

Nuts

Besides being excellent for heart health and helping you live a longer, healthier life, nuts are extremely versatile and an absolute must-have in any vegan kitchen. Toss walnuts into salads, turn pine nuts into pesto, blend cashews into a cruelty-free “cheese” – the possibilities are endless. 

Beans

Full of fiber, antioxidants, and protein, these nutritious legumes are basically magic. Whether canned or dried, they are super-easy to store and add heartiness and depth to pretty much everything! Black beans, cannellini beans, and chickpeas are our favorites. You can even use the bean juice as an egg replacer – hello vegan meringue! 

Herbs and Spices

Add a flavor boost to your meals with these must-haves:

  • Cumin: Add a smoky, earthy flavor to chili and Mexican dishes.
  • Oregano: The flavor of Italy!
  • Cinnamon: Necessary for sweet treats, but it can also add a nice flavor to savory dishes.
  • Cayenne: If you like it spicy, you’re gonna love cayenne!
  • Turmeric: Adds color and an earthy flavor to dishes. Turmeric also has anti-inflammatory properties.

Vegan Milk

Avoid supporting the cruel dairy industry by choosing vegan milk options, including coconut, hemp, almond, rice, soy, and cashew milk–all of which pack a nutritional punch without a lot of calories. Coconut milk is rich in fiber and B vitamins, soy milk is loaded with protein, and almond milk is free of artery-clogging cholesterol and saturated fat.

Dates

Another vegan superfood, dates are excellent at binding together crusts for tarts and pies. They also add an earthy, creamy sweetness to smoothies and baked goods and can even be used for making delicious dog treats. Plus, they’re packed with all sorts of beneficial nutrients, including fiber, calcium, and iron.

Agave Nectar

Do you have a sweet tooth but aren’t sweet on harming bees? Try using agave nectar in place of honey. This natural juice of the agave plant is sweeter than honey, so you can use less, and it also contains higher levels of fructose, meaning that it won’t raise your blood sugar levels as much as other sweeteners. Add a little to your morning brew or use it to sweeten up a blueberry-oatmeal smoothie.

Agar Agar

These clear, flavorless seaweed flakes make it easy to replace gelatin (which is made with animal skin, bones, tendons, cartilage, and ligaments) in your favorite recipes. It’s available in most supermarkets that have an Asian foods section or in health-food stores.

Applesauce

Besides being a tasty and healthy snack on its own, applesauce is a great substitute for butter, eggs, and even oil, and it helps make vegan baked goods moist and delicious.

Flaxseeds

Flaxseeds are super-nutritious and loaded with fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. Try stirring them into oatmeal and smoothies or sprinkling them on toast. Combined with a little bit of water, ground flaxseeds are a great egg replacer for breads, muffins, brownies, cookies, and other baked goods. 

Pasta

Pasta is the go-to staple when you want to whip up a delicious meal in minutes. Toss it with a little olive oil and garlic or your favorite pasta sauce. Choose whole-grain, eggless varieties.

Vegetable Stock

Throw some stock and some veggies into a pot, boil, and season, and you’ve got yourself one hearty (and healthy) meal. Vegetable stock also comes in handy when making sauces, gravies, and casseroles, and it can be used to add moisture and flavor to any recipe.

Quinoa

Quinoa is highly prized because it’s gluten-free and it contains an abundance of protein (up to 18 grams per serving), which has all nine essential amino acids. Its couscous-like consistency is perfect for stuffing peppers, bulking up stews and salads, or accompanying curries and stir-fries.

Jackfruit

Jackfruit’s firm, fibrous texture makes it an ideal meat replacer. Try using it in place of meat in vegan tuna salad, crab cakes, pulled pork, and carnitas. 

Vegan Mayo

Traditional mayonnaise is made with eggs, but it’s easy to get a rich, creamy mayo flavor without the cruelty to hens. There are plenty of vegan mayo options, including Just Mayo and Follow Your Heart’s Vegenaise, available at most supermarkets and natural-food stores.

Nutritional Yeast

Any in-the-know vegan will swear by these golden, vitamin B–packed flakes–and you will too. Use nutritional yeast in soups, sauces, and gravies or as a coating for tofu. It can also be used to make “cheesy” spreads or be sprinkled over mashed potatoes or popcorn for a little extra flavor. Most supermarkets and health-food stores carry nutritional yeast, but if you have trouble finding it, you can always order it online.

Many of these foods are considered kitchen staples in any home, proving that anyone can go vegan.

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