Guest post by VeganTeen youth advisor Jasmine Alas-Castillo.

Transiting to be vegan or plant-based in a family of meat-eaters isn’t the easiest task. All the YouTube videos and blog posts with the obscure and niche ingredients can feel overwhelming. Where do you start? What’s the cost? And do you really need the black Himalayan salt with the egg-y taste?

Well, have no worries! We’ve taken into account cost, versatility, and longevity of ingredients; here’s our list of the essential vegan pantry items for teens!

1) Beans

Beans are hands down the most essential ingredient to stock up on. For one, they are nutritious as they contain dietary fiber, protein, B vitamins, and various other important vitamins and minerals. These legumes are one of the cheapest ingredients most households already have, which is key when convincing your parents to let you go vegan, as they’re a reminder of how sustainable going plant-based can be. Moreover, beans are great because they come in all shapes and sizes, with soy being the holy-grail for vegan food. Plus, beans are a perfect answer to the age-old question, “Where will you get your protein?”

Photo credit: Milada Vigerova ​

2) Rice

Rice lands the second spot. Similar to beans, rice is cheap and commonly found within most households. This starch is filling and easy to digest. It’s also great as a side dish. Lasting up to six months, this fact is important in times of emergency. Additionally, rice is naturally gluten-free, which is awesome for transitioning to a gluten-free vegan lifestyle. While going vegan is great for eliminating arsenic in your diet from chicken, rice can also be a source of dietary arsenic exposure. If possible, choose brands and sources of rice with the least arsenic.

Photo credit: ​Pille-Riin Priske​ ​

3) Oats

In third place is oats. These grains are full of fiber and super versatile. Aside from the countless combinations you can create with oatmeal, oats are useful in vegan baking—i.e., if you run out of flour, oat flour is an easy-to-make substitute. This grain is also a great source of important vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants. Similar to rice, it’s naturally gluten-free. Oats are also super useful for vegan skin and hair care, as there are tons of homemade masks and creams that use this item.


Photo credit: Markus Spiske ​

4) Potatoes

Potatoes are a key component of a vegan pantry too. It would be an understatement to say this vegetable is versatile. Just to name a few examples, french fries, baked potatoes, and casseroles are all beloved by many. Why are they so popular? Well, it’s simple; they are easy-to-make and customize! Similar to the greats mentioned before it, this starchy food is a common staple within pantries already. Potatoes are also rich in potassium, vitamin C, fiber, Vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium, and iron.