Week Two: Behind the Scenes
Grocery store tips and tricks
It’s not exactly a stretch to say that I owe my veganism, in part, to the internet. It gave me the opportunity to research issues endemic to the dairy and egg industries and to realize that being vegetarian wasn’t morally consistent for me. It gave me access to the first generation of vegan bloggers, folks who normalized a lifestyle I still considered a bit out there. As I read their recipes and reflections on being vegan in what was then a much less vegan world, it seemed like something I could do. I did do it, and I haven’t looked back.
So for today’s topic — grocery store tips and tricks — it seems fitting to highlight another way the internet is there for vegans: by providing access to veg-friendly shopping! Even if you live somewhere remote, without easy access to a Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, co-op, or even a regular ol’ grocery store, you can stock your pantry by shopping online. Here are a few of my favorite online grocers. (These are all U.S. based, because the cost of shipping internationally would be prohibitive! I’m sorry I don’t have a similar list of international grocers.)
My favorite vegan-friendly online grocery stores
Based in Waukesha, Wisconsin, Vegan Essentials is a treasure! Along with food (including freshly baked pastries!), they carry a fantastic variety of other items: health products, cosmetics, books, accessories, and more. I particularly enjoyed ordering from VE when I lived in Wisconsin; the shipping was super quick and cheap since I was so close to their HQ! Prices are generally fair, but don’t forget to check out their sale section for marked down goods.
- The aforementioned pastries!
- Hard-to-find niche ingredients (vegan gelatin, anyone?)
- Sweet sales!
While not entirely vegan, Vitacost has lots of cruelty-free vegan options and focuses on health-related food, health and beauty products, and more. They have a house brand of products (including vitamins and supplements) that are priced competitively, and they offer frequent sales and promotions. I do find their vegan product filter a bit untrustworthy; some products that don’t include the word “vegan” in the title won’t show up.
- Vitamins and supplements
- Shelf-stable ingredients
- Health, beauty, and personal care items
Pangea is the real deal — they’ve been an online business since 1995 and have the coveted veganstore.com URL! Besides food, Pangea sells everything from cosmetics to clothing. They’re also truly cruelty-free, offering only products that are produced and manufactured ethically. The website feels like the online equivalent of an old-school natural foods co-op in the best way possible.
- Old-school vegan ingredients and brands
- Companion animal products
- Household items you know are vegan, cruelty-free, and likely environmentally friendly.
Sigh, I had to include it! For price and variety, it’s really difficult to beat Amazon. I’d prefer to put my money into the vegan-owned companies on this list, but Amazon is always a solid fallback.
- Most things :(
- Cheap shipping (especially if you have Prime)
So — which retailers did I miss?
Note: For a while, the idea of ordering food online and having it shipped concerned me from an environmental perspective. But I’m honestly not sure whether it’s worse than getting in my car and driving to the market… to pick up food that was already shipped from afar, in most cases. And for items you just can’t get locally, the point becomes moot. I welcome stats on the environmental costs of both options, though!