Plant Based Lifestyle 101

Here are some common questions people often have about transitioning to a Whole Foods, Plant Based Diet. 

What foods can you eat on a plant-based diet?

So many people are overwhelmed when they think of adopting a diet free of all animal products and processed items. It doesn’t need to be confusing. This should help. Eating plant-based, whole foods means fueling your body from the following food groups.

WHOLE GRAINS – This group includes brown rice, millet, oats, barley, corn, bulgur, and all products made from whole grains including bread, cereals, pastas, and more. Whole grains are filling but have very little fat. In countries where whole grains are staples, such as rural Asia, diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers, are much less common than in the States and Europe.

LEGUMES – This group includes beans, peas, and lentils. They are hearty, high protein foods that are rich in calcium, iron, cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber, and even traces of omega 3 fatty acids.

VEGETABLES – These foods are loaded with vitamins and minerals, are very low in fat, and like all plant foods, have no cholesterol at all.

FRUIT – These are vitamin rich and have no cholesterol. They do have natural sugar but are low on the glycemic index, except for watermelon and pineapple.

Recommended foods do NOT include meat, dairy products, eggs, added oils, or most processed foods.

Beginners Plant-Based Diet Grocery List

If I could take each of you on a trip to your local grocery store and point out the most healthful products and how to shop in the most cost-effective way, I would. I do offer this as a service to those that live close to and it’s a very rewarding experience for me to share what I’ve learned with newbies. Since I can’t do that for most of you, the next best thing is for me to share my personal experience with a whole foods plant based diet. 

These are just some of your options.   I believe this plant-based shopping list will give you a good idea of how to get started. You can begin with a few things from each category and branch out as you gain momentum.

NOTE: I do not keep all these varieties of veggies and fruit in my kitchen all the time. Who has that kind of room? I just want to give you an idea of what is available. Shopping seasonally is something I believe in. Wait until summer for fresh corn, tomatoes and local herbs.  


 old fashion oats

rice (brown, Jasmine, wild, etc.)

 bulgur (a wheat grain that is great for adding texture to meatless dishes)

 quinoa

 barley (I add to soups and stews)

 millet (I add to soups and stews)

 corn meal (for cornbread)

 grits

 unbleached flour (whole wheat, spelt, brown rice, barley, etc.)

 whole-wheat pastry flour

 pasta (whole wheat, spelt, artichoke, quinoa, etc.)

 bread (rye, pumpernickel, spelt, etc.)

 tortillas (corn & whole grain flour)


 kidney beans

 pinto beans

 garbanzo

 white beans (navy, cannellini, great northern, etc.)

 black beans

 black-eyed peas

 green peas

 split peas

 edamame (soybean, fresh or frozen)

 lentils (red, green, brown, etc.)

 nuts


There is no limit here. I do not keep all of these on-hand. This is just to make you aware of what is available:

 potatoes (red, Russet, Yukon gold, purple, etc.)

 sweet potatoes

 tomatoes

 carrots

 radishes

 artichokes

 lettuces (romaine, endive, iceberg,  butter head, arugula, etc.)

 other greens (spinach, kale, chard, collards, etc.)

 cabbages (purple, green, Napa, Bok Choy, etc.)

 broccoli

 cauliflower

 Brussels sprouts

 bean sprouts and beets

 leeks

 garlic

 ginger

 bell peppers (red, yellow, green)

 peppers (the hot ones or mild ones such as shishito)

 onions (shallots, purple, yellow, white, etc.)

 corn

 cilantro

 parsley


 apples

 pears

 oranges

 grapes

 pineapple

 nectarine

 peach

 bananas

 berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, etc.)

 kiwi

 avocado (yep this is a fruit)

 lemon

 lime

 melons (cantaloupe, watermelon, honey dew, etc.)


 balsamic vinegar

 apple cider vinegar

 rice vinegar

 red wine vinegar

 Bragg's amino acids

 tahini (this is a sesame paste. Usually found in peanut butter section)

 maple syrup

 black strap molasses

 Dijon mustard

 yellow mustard

 low sugar ketchup

 soy sauce, amino acids or tamari

 Worcester sauce (make sure it doesn't have anchovies)

 vegetarian 'oyster' sauce

 nutritional yeast

 sweetener such as sucanat or coconut sugar (sucanat is a less refined sugar)

 baking powder

 baking soda

 corn starch or arrowroot powder (for thickening)

 vanilla


 Italian seasoning

 garlic powder

 onion powder

 paprika and smoked paprika

 peppercorns

 turmeric

 tarragon

 cayenne

 chili powder

 cumin

 zaatar

 bay leaves

 parsley

 basil

 oregano

 red pepper flakes

Canned Foods:

 beans

 tomato paste

 tomato sauce

 artichoke hearts

 water chestnuts

 chipotles

 cream corn

 pimentos

 baby corn

 vegan low-fat soups

 veggie broth (low sodium)

 fire roasted tomatoes

Refrigerator Foods:

 hummus

 plant-based milk (soy, almond, rice, etc.)

 tofu (firm, extra firm, silken)

 tempeh

 seitan

 lemon juice

 flax meal

 salsa

Frozen Foods:

 Ezekiel breads (they are kept in the freezer section of many grocery stores)

 hash browns

 fruits (like berries, etc.)

 chopped spinach

 corn nibbles

 green peas

 mixed veggies

 stir fry veggies

 healthy plant-based pizza crusts

 whole grain bagels

 whole grain buns (for bean burgers and carrot hot dogs)

Justine Divett