Updated: Mar 15, 2021
Finding vegan food in the supermarket can be hard at first, but as you start to learn about what foods there are and where they are it gets easier.
If you have a dietary requirement, you have an allergy or an intolerance you can shop in the Free From sections of the supermarket and find food that is safe for you to eat. They’ll have gluten free bread, dairy free cakes, that kind of thing. But if you are vegan there is no “Free From Animal Products” section, no special dairy free, egg free, meat free, animal derivative free, vegan items aisle, especially as foods needs to be stored in different ways.
The fruit and vegetable aisles
I know, this sounds obvious and it is, but remember that not everything in this section will be vegan. Prepared salads and vegetables can contain butter, milk, mayonnaise and other animal products. Generally, if something doesn’t come with a list of ingredients it’ll be okay, like carrots, they don’t normally have a label on them saying that the ingredient in the carrot is carrot.
The dips and spreads section
This is a cold aisle and will have things like hummus, guacamole, fresh salsa, sundried tomatoes. This is a great aisle to shop in if you’re having a picnic, you can often find falafel, vegetable samosas and other treats nearby.
Free From Sections
There can be multiple free From sections in a supermarket, on the shelves, in the chilled section and the frozen section. Some supermarkets will have more than one Free From area in each section, for example you could have one section or things like cooking sauces, pasta and seasoning mixes, then somewhere else there is another Free From area that has porridge, breakfast cereals, bread and biscuits. One supermarket I visited had a Free From section for chilled items then had the same items again next to the non vegan options in another part of the shop. When shopping in these areas always check the label to make sure that items are vegan as when they say free from they mean that the food doesn’t have something in it but you have to read the label to find out what that something is. It could by gluten, egg, dairy or even mustard, this doesn’t mean that they won't contain meat or other animal products such as shellac.
This is where you have to get really familiar with your local supermarket as vegan food can anywhere. As well as the fresh fruit and veg aisles there are the frozen aisles with frozen fruit and vegetables but there are also frozen chips and frozen jacket potatoes that can go straight into the microwave. In the tinned section there will be beans, lots of different kinds of beans and lentils, tinned tomatoes and vegetables. There are grains, pearl barley for soups and stews, bulgar wheat, quinoa, rice and the microwave rice packs. The microwave rice packs aren’t always vegan so check the ingredients for things like egg. You can also find vegan food right next to the non vegan options, treats like ice cream and sweets often won’t have a section of their own so keep your eyes peeled and always remember the accidentally vegan foods.
Which sections do you always visit when you go to the supermarket?