When switching to a plant-based diet – or, in many cases, a lifestyle – one settles on this revelation rather quickly: how grocery shopping pivots from an hourlong chore into an afternoon of headache and heartache.
Like an 18th century sailor mapping out a series of Caribbean islands on a rum-running escapade, vegans and vegetarians will often ping-pong around a city bouncing from store to store in search of their preferred plant-based fix. A true first world problem.
One may have a favorite salty snack. The other, a particularly delicious frozen meal. And, of course, neither will carry that special oat milk – best head to the next store.
Allow me to lighten that load. If my odometer is any indication, 33 miles is the sacrifice necessary to hit eight of Spokane’s many grocery purveyors, from Safeway near the Division Street Y to Huckleberry’s Natural Market on the South Hill. A small price to pay in the quest of supermarket dominance broken down for your convenience.
This list is in no way all-encompassing, but it is the best I could do on a sweaty, smoky and blisteringly hot afternoon. I’m told that it was the balmiest day on record so far this year.
When it comes to grocery store chains, Rosauers is in nearly every neighborhood – as a Spokane institution should. It fills the niche of offering vegan boxed products like Daiya macaroni and cheese and vegan Alfredo sauce, as well as frozen meats.
A shout out to the produce section. The best Red Delicious apple in Spokane is sold at Rosauers. And, if you’re in the mood for a spicy trail mix, its Powers Fine Food brand is often vegan and delicious.
Target is the retail version of Safeway, and it recently expanded its fresh vegan meats with a section near its produce much like Safeway. It sells my favorite brand of vegan yogurt called Kite Hill in strawberry, blueberry and plain.
It also sells Oatly oat milk, the Swedish-based brand that has one of the best-tasting plant-based milks. And, of course, there’s the rest of Target waiting for you outside the grocery section. Perfect for spending an entire afternoon and paycheck.
I like to think of Safeway the way Safeway probably thinks of Safeway: It’s everywhere, and you know what you’re going to get exactly where you expect to get it. And for plant-based people, that works. You can buy a veggie dog at any location, and, while you’re there, a plant-based ham or two.
In that same section, a bottle of vegan mayonnaise and a slice of Chao vegan cheese. Pro tip: While they’re wholly unhealthy, chains such as Safeway, Target and Walmart make their own brands of accidentally vegan cookies. Because it’s mostly overly processed junk, most forgo the eggs and milk you’d typically expect in a cookie. Just be sure to read the ingredients – and pace yourself.
My Fresh Basket
It’s the closet you’ll get to a Whole Foods in Spokane. The selection is great, the ready-made-food is plentiful, and it carries a ton of local options. Props to being the only grocery store in Spokane putting local options for ranch dressing in the spotlight.
Pretty much any vegan alternative you can think of, you’ll find it at My Fresh Basket. Bonus points for selling Small Planet Tofu.
It’s 2019, and we all know how the store works. And for vegans and vegetarians, the store works pretty darn well. Trader Joe’s has consistently catered to the plant-based crowd with an ever-expanding group of options.
It’s also particularly great for those niche items you can’t find anywhere else. I’m especially fond of the frozen chicken strips and falafel. But, most importantly, Joe’s now sells vegan chili and lime-flavored rolled corn tortilla chips. They’re the closest you’ll come to vegan Takis.
Huckleberry’s Natural Market
It’s like My Fresh Basket on a slightly smaller budget. Plenty of vegan frozen foods, fresh vegan meats, cheeses and yogurts. As one of Spokane’s original health food stores, you can feel the history.
Pretty much anything you’d want is here, including a fantastic hot food bar that usually features a few vegan options, and an expansive bulk food section. And, of course, the filling vegan club for $9.99.
Yes. I surprised myself here, too. It’s just … the Fred Meyer hype is real. In the mood for vegan cheddar crackers? Check. Need specialty vegan cheese? Right this way. How about three – yes, three – full doors of vegan ice cream? You’ve come to the right place.
And all of them much, much cheaper than some of the other options on this list. Capitalism is a heck of a drug. On top of all that, it’s Fred Meyer, so while you’re picking up a vegan pizza, hey, why not grab a pizza oven while you’re at it.
With so much variety under one roof, it’s hard not to sing the praises. Consider them sung.
This should come as a shock to literally no one. It’s a plant-based utopia through and through. The amount of sheer options is mind-boggling, especially considering how low the prices are even compared to chains like Fred Meyer, Safeway and Target.
You’ll find cheese, yogurt, frozen foods, Beyond burgers and sausages all well under what their competitors are charging. And the snacks – oh, the snacks. You can load up on spicy hot puffed chips, then head a few aisles over and grab a few boxes of vegan chicken taquitos. Maybe a vegan empanada or two.
If you can think of it, odds are Natural Grocers has it.
Powered By Plants is a plant-based-focused column by features writer Jonathan Glover. Have any suggestions? Ideas on what should be covered next? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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