By KD Angle-Traegner, Founder & Editor
The Daily Beast recently interviewed Kris Carr about veganism in a post titled, “So You Wanna Be Vegan? Start Here.” In it was this from the author of the post:
OK, it all makes sense but what if you don’t have Wolfgang Puck preparing vegan pizza for you or a personal assistant to scour the health-food-store shelves for agave nectar while you try on your cruelty-free (for animals, anyway) Stella McCartney stilettos?
Vegan politics aside, this type of statement is the exact stereotype about veganism that drives me bonkers.
Veganism is not an inaccessible lifestyle only the urban rich can attain.
While Carr does mention that “a sack of rice and a sack of beans is not that expensive and certainly if you can’t afford to buy all organic you can use the Dirty Dozen or the Clean Fifteen” to cut the expense of vegan food- she says nothing about how accessible vegan products really are.
[I should mention here that I’m not slamming Carr, just in case you were about to type me an angry comment about being divisive.]
Vegan products are just around the corner and likely on sale. One of the most prevalent places to shop in America is Walmart.
Hold on, stay with me.
We’re not talking about whether we support Walmart or it’s business practices.
What we are talking about is the fact that the average American has access to vegan products, at an affordable price, at every Walmart across the country. And they are everywhere.
The fact is, millions of people shop there every day.
At minimum, if someone is forced to shop at Walmart (whether through convenience, location, or monetary situation) then making vegan choices is the least one can do.
Imagine if every Walmart shopper purchased solely vegan products how that would change animal agribusiness.
It would be huge.
How to Shop Vegan at Walmart
Walmart is literally filled to the brim with a huge selection of goods. Let’s take a look at each department. I’ll show you the vegan options all right where you’d expect their non-vegan counterparts to be.
Tofu, the vegan staple. You’ll find it in the refrigerated cases near where the packaged lettuce lives.
Have you always wanted to try tofu but didn’t know how to cook it? I’ve been there too. That’s why I created this Vegan Tofu Guide. It’s a comprehensive guide that answers questions such as: How do I know which firmness is right for my recipe? Does tofu spoil? How do you know when that has happened? How to restaurants get the tofu to taste so good? I’ve heard soy isn’t healthy for me, is it? What about GMOs?
I answer those questions, plus give you lots of recipes to help you add this soy powerhouse to your diet.
Please note: The Go Veggie cheese item in this photo contains milk proteins and is not suitable for vegans.
Organic produce doesn’t just live at Whole Foods, it also lives in horrible environment-destroying plastic bags at Walmart. A growing number of grocery sections at Walmart stores carry organic produce. In fact, the store has begun to create larger spaces for fresh foods to meet the growing demand.
Fresh fruits and vegetables should be the foundation of any healthy diet and Walmart delivers. Look for everything from organic kale to collards, to asparagus to potatoes, to berries and other fruits.
Are you looking for a plant-based milk to dump all over you cereal in the mornings? Walmart has them. You’ll be able to spot soy, almond, and even cashew milk in the refrigerated dairy cases, right next to the dairy-based milk.
Vegan butter and accidentally-vegan margarine? Yup, Walmart has those too.
Protip: Not every Walmart will stock the same items. If your local store doesn’t carry vegan butter, there are still a few things you can do. First, ask the Walmart to stock vegan butter. Generally speaking, stores will stock items that you request and you’d be surprised how often this works.
Second, you can make your own butter.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to ask you to get your own churning bucket.
Delicious vegan butter can easily be made with just a few ingredients. Here is a Vegan Butter Guide to tell you how.
Dried beans and rice are friends to budgets everywhere with good reason; they’re nutrient dense, versatile, and cheap. And if you have a pressure cooker, they’re fast food.
But even if you don’t, dried beans and rice are a healthy and hearty addition to a well-balanced diet, and completely worth the time they take to prepare. Be sure to grab a bottle of hot sauce, conveniently located nearby, to ramp up the flavor!
Okay. I’ve talked vegan basics: fruits, vegetables, tofu, dried beans and rice. What about packaged items?
Well, dairy-free mac-and-cheese for one. There are also vegan-friendly quick-cook quinoa, pasta, and instant noodle soups. There’s also oatmeal, cream of wheat, creamed buckwheat, polenta, cereal, and granola. You’ll also find corn chips, potato chips, and crackers without honey or milk in them.
And, my Walmart even carries a few frozen meatless options as well.
What else is available at Walmart? Down alternative comforters! Skip the feathers in favor of soft, plush cruelty-free fill that will keep you warm during the coldest weather.
If you’re new to veganism, you might question why vegans avoid down and other feather products. You may even have asked yourself, “Geese, ducks, and other birds aren’t killed for their feathers, so why should I avoid them?” It’s a good question.
It’s a good question.
Some well-intentioned people overlook clothing and other items that contain feathers or down because the cultivation of the raw material does not always require the immediate death of an animal. The thing to understand is that veganism is an ethical philosophy which begins with the idea that we should not use animals in any way and avoid, to the extent that is possible and practical, all forms of use. Every plucked goose, duck, or swan whose feathers are used to make down will be slaughtered once their productivity lessens. In the end, they all will die.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. And if more and more people choose these types of cruelty-free alternatives, it won’t be :)
Another great cruelty-free option for the home are these wool-free rugs.
Like down, wool is another fabric that vegans avoid because it comes from an animal. To learn more about wool production, as well as a host of alternatives, visit this handy Vegan Wool Guide.
Polyester + Cotton makes Dickies hip (and vegan).
100% cotton means that these jams are 100% vegan. Check the labels for animal-free fabrics like linen, denim, polyester, or rayon.
Stella McCartney who? These man-made shoes are, yes, vegan (and cheap). Be sure to check the label (under the tongue of the shoe) for hidden animal ingredients like leather or suede.
Find More Vegan Products
I’ve been living vegan for more than 11 years in a small Ohio town that doesn’t have one fully vegan restaurant. I’ve learned how to live by my ethics in a town that wasn’t designed for me and I want to share what I have learned with you. Here are a few related articles to show you how easy it is to find vegan products. I hope you will find them useful. If you do, I’d love it if you shared them with others.