Some vegan foods such as shortening and vegan butter contain palm oil. While palm oil is plant-based, it contributes to deforestation as rainforests are cleared for palm oil plantations. This displaces animals by destroying their habitats. The great news is most vegan pantry staples are palm oil free.
Just like having a refrigerator full of fresh fruits and vegetables, it’s easier to eat healthy, palm oil free, cruelty-free, and vegan when you have the foods on hand. You’ll find when you have some of these pantry staples, it’s easy to make and enjoy homemade meals.
All of these foods have the benefit of having a long shelf life without the use of palm oil as a preservative. When possible, choose Non-GMO Project Certified and organic when available if your budget allows. When buying canned goods, look for BPA-free labeling.
Here are pantry staples that are vegan and also palm oil free.
Vegan Pantry Staples
Some of our favorites include:
- Pure maple syrup
- Popcorn kernels
- Organic jams and jellies
- Pure vanilla extract
Beans and lentils
There are so many choices when it comes to legumes. They are loaded with fiber and protein. Depending on the grocery store, you will find a wide variety to choose from. In addition to being vegan and palm oil free, they are also gluten-free.
You can buy dry beans or beans in cans. You’ll find lentils typically dry in bags. Soak them overnight and cook them in an instant pot for an easy meal.
Legumes are easy to toss in salads, make vegan chili and dips, add to soups, in a stir fry, and more. Lentil soup is a hearty meal. I love mixing beans and salsa for an easy dip. Use them in place of meat in tacos. There are recipes for chickpea cakes, vegan chili, and more. You can bake with them too. So far, I made black bean brownies.
Keep meals vegan and visually-interesting by choosing from different varieties:
- Black beans
- Cannellini beans also called white beans; use to make white bean salad recipe
- Garbanzo beans
- Chickpeas – staples in vegan households; use to make hummus, or toast chickpeas on the stovetop
- Pinto beans
- Kidney beans
- Refried beans – look for vegan labeling
- Red lentils
- Green lentils
- Brown lentils
- Black beluga lentils
Grains and pseudo-grains
Affordable and filling, grains provide carbs and fiber and will help fill you up. They are easy to buy in bulk. Choose whole grains and non-GMO certified when possible.
There are many vegan rice recipes online. You can enjoy grains any time of day. Add nuts, fruit, cinnamon, and pure maple syrup for breakfast. Toss with fresh herbs, such as cilantro or other herbs, sea salt, and pure olive oil for a side. Add beans or lentils and make it a meal.
- Amaranth (pseudo cereal)
- Quinoa (pseudo cereal)- Organic quinoa is one of our favorite Costco foods to buy in bulk; use it to make veggie burgers
- Wild rice (seed; pseudo grain)
- Brown rice long grain, short grain
- Raw buckwheat
- Pearled barley
- Rolled, old-fashioned oats; overnight oats – Oats are very versatile for breakfast, snacks, baking and desserts, blended into smoothies and more.
Canned vegetables and fruits
Be sure to buy BPA-free cans. They should be labeled “BPA-free,” especially important for acidic foods, such as tomatoes.
- Tomatoes – crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, chipotle sauce, tomato sauce
- Green beans
- Mixed vegetables, etc.
Pasta and noodles
Pasta dishes are easy and filling. Dried pasta should just contain wheat/semolina and water. If you want gluten-free pasta, be sure it doesn’t contain mono- and diglycerides which can be sourced from palm oil. Choose pasta with as few ingredients as possible.
- Pasta – various shapes and sizes, depending on the recipe
- Rice noodles
- Udon, soba, green tea noodles
- Mung bean noodles
- Sweet potato and yam noodles
- Couscous – Easy to cook; simply pour boiling water over couscous and cover for five minutes
There are many varieties of dried fruits that have a long shelf life until opened. Read ingredients; they should just contain the fruit. These are excellent to add to homemade granola.
Herbs and spices
- Red Ape Cinnamon is certified Palm Oil Free
- Bay leaves
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Pepper flakes
- Salt – Stock the pantry with Himalayan salt, sea salt, black salt, and more
- Pepper – Choose whole peppercorns and other varieties such as black pepper and white pepper
Nut butters and seed butters
Whether you buy peanut butter or nut butter, be sure to read ingredients. Avoid “no stir” and “easy to stir” labeling. These typically contain palm oil and other palm oil derivatives such as Mono- & Diglycerides. Choose peanut butter and nut butter with only the nut and salt.
Wild Friends Foods certified their peanut butters and nut butters Palm Oil Free. Learn about finding palm oil free peanut butter.
- Peanut butter
- Almond butter
- Cashew butter
- Sesame butter (Tahini)
- Sunflower seed butter
Nuts make for protein-filled and satisfying snacks. Add them whole or chopped to quinoa, salads, oatmeal, your granola recipe and more. You can blend them for a nut milk. Toss nuts with dried fruit, and vegan chocolate chips for trail mix.
In the United States, in the fall, you can find whole nuts in the produce department. These will include nuts in the shell for walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, filberts, and more.
- Pine nuts
To save money, buy seeds in bulk in the open bins in the grocery store. Grocery store bulk bins are budget friendly and have minimal waste with packaging. Another advantage is you can purchase as little or as much as you need.
- Hemp seeds
- Pepita seeds
- Chia seeds – Fill mason jar with chia seeds, almond milk, and cinnamon, set in fridge to set
- Whole flax seeds, ground flax seeds
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sunflower seeds
- Sesame seeds
Vegetable broth or bouillon cubes
Read labels to ensure they are vegan. Avoid chicken, beef, and other meat varieties.
Use oil to add extra fat to beans, salads, and more. Mix extra virgin olive oil with balsamic vinegar or other vinegar and spices for salad dressing.
- Avocado oil
- Coconut oil
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Safflower oil
- Sesame oil
- Rice vinegar
- Rice wine vinegar
- White wine vinegar
- Raw apple cider vinegar
- Balsamic vinegar
- Red wine vinegar
- Hot sauce
- Miso paste
You can buy baking flour, bread flour, or traditional flour. Use flour for baking, to thicken soups, sauces, and stews, to make pancakes, waffles, dumplings, tortillas, bread, and more. There are also gluten-free varieties. Great for being gluten-free and vegan, tapioca flour is versatile for baking.
- Almond flour
- Tapioca starch or tapioca flour
- Gluten free flour
- Chickpea flour
Vegan baking essentials
A note about shortening. Check labels. While plant-based and vegan, most all shortening contains palm oil.
- Raw agave
- Agave syrup – Use as a liquid sweetener like you would use maple syrup, without the maple taste. Use it for baking, on waffles and pancakes, in oatmeal, and to sweeten other foods.
- Pure maple syrup
- Baking powder
- Baking soda
- Pure vanilla extract
While store-bought cookies and desserts can be vegan, many contain palm oil. Make your own.
- Cane sugar also called granulated sugar
- Organic sugar
- Coconut sugar
- Light or dark brown sugar – Be sure to seal brown sugar in an additional bag without air so it lasts longer.
- Rice syrup or rice malt syrup – plant-based liquid sweetener
Note: Many brands of liquid stevia include vegetable glycerin made from palm oil.
Choose vegan dark chocolate and milk chocolate. In addition to avoiding dairy in chocolate, be sure to avoid mono- & diglycerides. These are typically sourced from palm oil. Note, almond bark contains palm oil.
- Organic cacao powder
- Cacao nibs
- Vegan chocolate chips
One of the best things we bought was an air popper. It’s one of our favorite items to make it easier to live palm oil free.
Plant milk and nut milk
A wholesome, plant-based diet will likely include milk. Make your own in food processor such as a Vitamix with almonds for almond milk. There are a wide variety of vegan shelf-stable milks without palm oil. For it to be palm oil free, be sure it doesn’t contain Vitamin A Palmitate.
- Shelf-stable almond milk
- Canned coconut milk, full fat coconut milk – be sure it contains just coconut and filtered water
- Cashew milk
- Hazelnut milk
- Oat milk
- Rice milk
Pickles are vegan but to be palm oil free you’ll need to choose pickles without Polysorbate 80, a palm oil derivative.
Choose olives without blue cheese or anchovies which aren’t vegan. You can find olives in glass jars and cans. They’re tasty to add to salads, appetizers, and for a snack. There are recipes made with olives too.
We buy roasted seaweed packs from Sprouts. It just contains Seaweed, Organic Sunflower Oil, Sea Salt. It’s makes for a tasty snack.
Once you acquire vegan pantry staples, you may find you become more adventurous with recipes and cooking. Something that many vegans enjoy is nutritional yeast.
It’s not the kind of yeast for making breads and waffles. It’s something to sprinkle on popcorn, stir into soups, sauces, on top of rice and pasta. It has a cheese and nut flavor. You can also use it to make vegan cheese. There are many vegan recipes using nutritional yeast online.
How to Stock the Pantry with Vegan Staples?
When you decide to go vegan or to eat more plant-based foods, there are easy ways to stock a vegan pantry. Use these steps:
- First, take inventory of what you already have.
- Consider what types of foods you and your family eat. While you will learn about new foods and try new recipes, you’ll still want to consider likes, dislikes, intolerances, and allergies.
- Next, consider how much space you have to store pantry foods. Do you have a shelf or an entire cabinet?
- Then, consider your budget. Start small.
- Buy filling foods first. These include foods with fiber that can be a main meal. Beans, lentils, oats, rice are the first things to buy.
- Continue to build the foods in the pantry by watching for sales on canned goods such as vegetables and beans, crushed tomatoes, and more. Buy extra pasta when it’s on sale.
- Buy the best ingredients you can afford including pure olive oil and non-GMO and certified organic when possible.
- Next, consider spices to jazz them up. You can add spices and herbs to beans, lentils, legumes, quinoa, rice, and pasta. Use them to make salad dressing as well. Start with garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, and basil.
- Watch for sales on baking items, such as flour, sugar, baking powder, organic cacao powder, pure vanilla extract, and confectioners sugar.
- Use bulk bins when trying new ingredients or for small amounts in a recipe. You will save money by only buying what you need.
- Pay attention to what new vegan foods your family enjoys. Continue to stock up on those items while also trying new recipes.
What can I cook with beans and legumes?
There are many dishes you can cook with legumes. Consider recipes for dips, soup, chili, bean burgers, lentil meatballs, and more. It’s easy to toss beans in rice or quinoa. Many of vegan bean dishes are forgiving and flexible. Create your own combinations from ingredients you already have.
What should every vegan have in their pantry?
Vegan staples include beans, lentils, nut butters, nuts, canned vegetables, dried fruit, oils, and spices. As you become familiar with vegan cooking, consider trying nutritional yeast.
How can I shop vegan for cheap?
Shop at a grocery store that has bins where you can measure out the amounts you need. Buying in bulk or just a small amount helps keeps costs down. Also, you won’t be paying for name brands and packaging.
Shop sales. Stock up on boxed pasta, oatmeal, and rice when it’s on sale. Also, make your own salad dressings instead of buying them premade.
Palm Oil Free Vegan Pantry
A vegan, plant-based diet can also be palm oil free. Stocking the pantry with vegan staples — especially filling foods such as pasta, rice, oats, and beans — means you will always have something to prepare in minutes.
Keeping a variety of vegan ingredients on hand is a great way to supplement the fresh produce you buy. Having grains, beans, and nuts is a great way to feel satisfied and to get protein and fiber. Wholesome meals are easy to prepare. Avoiding processed foods is a way to ensure you eat vegan and palm oil free.
Use this comprehensive list of pantry staples for a vegan diet. They have a long shelf-life. They are real foods and nutritious and budget-friendly.
To be vegan is to avoid animal products and to eat plant-based foods. Please also choose palm oil free to support animals who live in rainforests. Consider these pantry essentials to minimize your impact on the planet. Vegan cooking is easy with a cookbook or recipes online. If you are like many people who turned vegan, you’ll find you will be eating healthier too.
Eating vegan and palm oil free for breakfast, lunch and dinner plus snacks and dessert is possible with a well-stocked pantry.