By Paige Doyle, Certified Nutritionist and Dietetic Student at UNC
Reviewed by Jinan Banna, PhD, RD
Whether you are vegan for personal, ethical, environmental, or health reasons, it’s nice to know there are quality vegan convenience staple foods that you can grab from the store. Some of us who aren’t vegan may still be avoiding certain animal-derived ingredients, such as dairy or eggs because of food allergies. The good news is that more and more companies are coming out with vegan products. But, are they healthy? And, more importantly, do they taste good? We’ve looked at dozens of vegan brands on the market for bread, pasta, cereal, cream cheese, and mayonnaise. Here are our favorite choices.
In its simplest form, bread is a vegan food. Bread contains four primary ingredients: flour, water, salt, and yeast. However, some commercially sold breads at the grocery store contain dairy and/or eggs as binders. The only way to know for sure if your bread is vegan-friendly is to read the ingredient list. Our favorite vegan bread brands include
Food for Life’s Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Whole Grain Bread and Whole Foods’ 365 Brand Organic Sprouted Multigrain & Seed Bread. These both contain a good amount of fiber and protein, thanks to the whole grain flours used. With so many different breads on the market, you might find it helpful to read our blog on Healthy Bread so that you can make an informed choice. If sourdough bread is your go-to, Organic Rosie’s San Francisco Sourdough Bread is sure to please your taste buds. They use an organic, naturally-aged sourdough starter, as well as cultured wheat flour, to achieve an authentic sourdough taste. To learn more about sourdough bread, visit our blog Is Sourdough Bread Healthy. Gluten-free bread is available at most supermarkets; however, a lot of gluten-free breads contain eggs. One brand that specializes in vegan breads that are gluten-free is Simple Kneads. Their Quinoa Power Grains bread lasts up to 6 weeks in the fridge, and it is packed full of high-quality organic gluten-free grains. Read our blog on gluten-free breads to learn more about the nutritional content of various brands.
|Food for Life||365 Brand||Organic Rosie’s||Simple Kneads|
|80 calories per serving||90 calories per serving||110 calories per serving||90 calories per serving|
|0.5 grams fat||1.5 grams fat||0 grams fat||2 grams fat|
|15 grams carbohydrates||16 grams carbohydrates||22 grams carbohydrates||17 grams carbohydrates|
|3 grams dietary fiber||3 grams dietary fiber||2 grams dietary fiber||3 grams dietary fiber|
|5 grams protein||4 grams protein||5 grams protein||3 grams protein|
Vegan Cream Cheese
If you find yourself missing the comfort breakfast of a toasted bagel slathered with cream cheese, there are a few vegan options that won’t disappoint. Miyoko’s Creamery makes phenomenal vegan butter and cheese spreads. We love their plain cream cheese, but they also offer several other tasty cream cheese flavors, such as fish-free lox, savory scallion, and cinnamon raison. A lot of dairy-free cheeses and cheese spreads on the market contain added sugars and heavily processed ingredients. As renowned food journalist Michael Pollan would say, “Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.” Miyoko’s cream cheese contains just five simple ingredients: organic cashews, filtered water, organic coconut cream, sea salt, and cultures. Another excellent brand to try is Treeline. Similar to Miyoko’s cream cheese, their ingredients are minimal, and it’s made primarily from cashews. You can choose from their three flavors – plain, strawberry, or chive. One more brand that has an impressive line-up of plant-based cream cheese flavors is Spero. Organic sunflower seeds are the base of Spero’s plant-based cream cheese spreads. Their flavors include original, herb, smoked salmon, strawberry, chocolate, and pumpkin!
|90 calories per serving||90 calories per serving||80 calories per serving|
|8 grams fat||7 grams fat||7 grams fat|
|4 grams carbohydrates||4 grams carbohydrates||3 grams carbohydrates|
|1 gram dietary fiber||<1 gram dietary fiber||1 gram dietary fiber|
|3 grams protein||2 grams protein||3 grams protein|
Most packaged pasta at the supermarket is vegan. The only exception is fresh pasta; in this case, they might contain eggs. Be sure to check the ingredient list on the package to make sure there aren’t any animal-derived products. De Cecco’s pastas are a great value brand that you’ll find at most grocery stores. Their ingredient list is simple, just durum wheat semolina fortified with some B-vitamins and iron. Rao’s Homemade Pasta is another great-tasting brand that contains only two ingredients – water and durum semolina flour. If you are gluten-free and vegan, there are also plenty of plant-based gluten-free pasta products on the market. A few of our favorites include Banza Chickpea Pasta and Jovial Gluten-Free Pasta. Banza pastas contain an impressive amount of protein and fiber, which is attributed to the two main ingredients – chickpeas and pea protein. They also come in a variety of shapes, including rotini, shells, penne, and elbows. Jovial pastas were crafted in Italy and they contain just two simple ingredients – organic brown rice flour and water.
|De Cecco||Rao’s Homemade||Banza (GF)||Jovial (GF)|
|200 calories per serving||210 calories per serving||190 calories per serving||210 calories per serving|
|1 gram fat||1 gram fat||3 grams fat||2 grams fat|
|40 grams carbohydrates||42 grams carbohydrates||35 grams carbohydrates||44 grams carbohydrates|
|2 grams dietary fiber||2 grams dietary fiber||5 grams dietary fiber||2 grams dietary fiber|
|8 grams protein||7 grams protein||11 grams protein||5 grams protein|
Breakfast cereals can often contain animal-derived ingredients, such as milk or honey. A lot of cereal brands contain heaps of artificial flavors and added sugars. Food for Life’s Ezekiel 4:9 Organic Sprouted Cereal Flakes are an excellent source of fiber and protein. This cereal is also low in sugar, and the ingredient list is simple. To add some natural sweetness, try with sliced strawberries or bananas on top! If you like a crunchier cereal in the morning, Whole Foods’ 365 Brand makes a delicious and hearty Fruit and Nut Muesli Cereal. It contains zero added grams of sugar, but there’s some natural sweetness from the dates and raisins. Similar to the Food for Life brand, the Fruit and Nut Muesli packs in a lot of fiber and protein (8 grams of fiber and 7 grams of protein per serving). If you’re looking for a gluten-free cereal, Nature’s Path brand makes a few different flavors. For the chocolate lovers out there, Nature’s Path Qi’a Cocoa Coconut Superflakes is a great option. Among its short ingredient list are organic Fair Trade coconut and cocoa powder.
|Food for Life||365 Brand Muesli||Nature’s Path|
|210 calories per serving||250 calories per serving||240 calories per serving|
|1 gram fat||5 grams fat||7 grams fat|
|42 grams carbohydrates||47 grams carbohydrates||39 grams carbohydrates|
|6 grams dietary fiber||8 grams dietary fiber||6 grams dietary fiber|
|8 grams protein||7 grams protein||6 grams protein|
For the vegan sandwich-lovers out there, there are several high-quality brands of vegan mayonnaise. Mayonnaise is traditionally made with egg yolks. Vegan brands get creative with plant-based emulsifiers such as soybeans or aquafaba, which is the liquid/brine in a can of cooked chickpeas. Chosen Foods combines avocado oil, aquafaba, and faba bean protein powder to get a delicious spread that tastes just like the real thing! Sir Kensington’s makes a great vegan mayonnaise as well. Their egg-free mayo line-up is impressive, with four different flavors to choose from: original, chipotle, special sauce, and avocado oil. They use aquafaba, sunflower oil, and lemon juice as the base for their spreads. Primal Kitchen is known for their paleo-friendly dressings and condiments, and their vegan mayo does not disappoint. Instead of aquafaba, they use a potato protein blend as an emulsifier. If you have an immersion blender, you might want to try making your own vegan mayonnaise. The Minimalist Baker has an Easy Vegan Mayo recipe that can be whipped up in only 5 minutes!
|Chosen Foods||Sir Kensington’s||Primal Kitchen|
|90 calories per serving||90 calories per serving||90 calories per serving|
|10 grams fat||10 grams fat||11 grams fat|
|1 gram carbohydrates||0 grams carbohydrates||0 grams carbohydrates|
|0 grams dietary fiber||0 grams dietary fiber||0 grams dietary fiber|
|0 grams protein||0 grams protein||0 grams protein|
As vegan brands are gaining popularity at the supermarkets, it’s important to always check the ingredient list and nutrition label to see what brands are healthy. Stock up on your favorite staple vegan foods for those days when you are pressed for time. For more inspiration on ways to eat a vegan diet, be sure to read our blog on Transitioning to a Vegan Diet. Familiarize yourself with easy vegan cooking strategies in our blog Lazy Vegan Recipes.
Have questions? Comments? I would love to hear what you think below!
Jinan Banna, PhD, RD, is an associate professor at the University of Hawaii and the owner of Jinan Banna, LLC. When she isn’t working she is usually found hiking or sampling food from around the world.