When you don’t have the time or appetite for a full meal, vegan snacks fill the void. You’ve got a dizzying assortment of possibilities. In this guide, we’ll run through all the very best choices.
Convenient Ready-to-Eat Vegan Snacks
Most snacks require little or no preparation time. Many are ready-to-eat. Others need only a couple minutes nuking in the microwave. For the quickest and easiest snack ideas, start here:
- Vegan yogurt
- Nuts and seeds (raw or roasted)
- Dark chocolate (check ingredients for milk products)
- Energy bars (Recommended: ProBar; Raw Rev Glo; Clif Bar; Luna Bar)
- Toast spread with jam or nut butter
- Soup cups
- Edamame (soybeans in pods)
- Roasted seaweed or dried dulse
- Vegan ice cream & sorbets
- Vegan jerky
- Papadams (microwaved 25-35 seconds)
- English muffins, toasted and spread with vegan butter or cream cheese
- Dried fruit, raisins, or trail mix
- Take-out vegan nori rolls (available from any sushi restaurant and most natural food stores)
- Mochi (a mildly sweet rice snack sold in Japanese groceries)
- Peanuts in the shell
- Tortilla chips served with jarred salsa or bean dip, or boxed pressure-packed guacamole
For entire meals that are comparably easy to make, check out my Easy Vegan Foods page.
Healthy Vegan Snacks
Both vegetables and fruits are loaded with nutrients. But since fruits contain a lot of sugar you should eat them in moderation.
Vegan yogurts are likewise both healthy and convenient. Opt for yogurts made from soy milk, as they have significantly more protein than those based on almond or coconut milk. To save money, instead of buying single-serving fruit-based varieties buy a big container of unsweetened vegan yogurt and stir in some pureed fruit before eating.
Fruit smoothies are another terrific and healthy snack. Preparation and cleanup takes only a couple of minutes. Any sort of frozen fruit or berry works wonderfully in a smoothie. Since fruit has plenty of sugar go with an unsweetened vegan milk. When it comes to protein and other nutrients, soy milk or Ripple is far superior to milks made from almonds or coconuts.
Chocolate gets a bad rap since most of chocolate bars are full of milk and sugar. But a couple squares of vegan dark chocolate, labeled 85 percent chocolate or higher, is one of the healthiest things you could nibble on. Better yet, get ahold of some cacao beans. They are bitter and may take getting used to, but they’re wonderfully satisfying and nutritious once you acquire the taste.
Middle Eastern Snacks
Better natural food stores and most upscale food markets offer olive bars that also feature hummus, baba ghanouj, tabouleh, and dolmas. You can also buy these foods to-go from any Middle Eastern restaurant. In my experience, hummus and baba purchased from Middle Eastern restaurants is infinitely better than the commercial brands sold at groceries.
One of the healthiest snacks imaginable is raw carrots, cauliflower, or celery dipped into hummus. So keep a container of hummus and some veggies in the refrigerator and you’ll always have a nutritious and filling snack on hand.
Quick & Healthy Light Meals
Sandwiches take just a minute or two to make, and you can prepare them in endless variations. To make your sandwich more of a snack than a meal, make it a half-sandwich using a single slice of bread cut in two. Also, you can turn any sandwich into a wrap by swapping in a large tortilla in place of the bread. Regardless of whether you’re eating bread or tortillas, whole grain offers fiber plus better nutrition.
Canned chili is a super easy light meal, and takes just a couple minutes to heat up. Amy’s makes several varieties, from mild to spicy, using organic ingredients.
Baked sweet potatoes are one of the easiest and healthiest snacks going. But since they require an hour in the oven, they’re not a good choice if you’re already hungry. You can also bake and then mash them along with some chopped nuts and a dab of maple syrup, then refrigerate them in an airtight dish. In Japan, many groceries have a mini oven full of freshly-baked bagged sweet potatoes next to the checkout aisle.
Junky Vegan Snacks
The question of what qualifies as junk doesn’t yield a clear-cut answer. But let’s just say that if it comes out of a deep fryer, you can accurately call it junk food.
You can choose from plenty of delicious junky snacks. Since deep frying at home is time consuming and hazardous, I prefer satisfying my fried food fix at restaurants. I typically check to see if the deep fryer oil is also used for non-vegetarian foods, since I’m grossed out using oil that’s come into contact with shrimp or chicken nuggets. I’m therefore a big fan of the fries at Five Guys, since the peanut oil they use for frying touches nothing but potatoes.
You can buy vegan-friendly junky snacks at most fast food restaurants. These items include French fries, onion rings. And many vegan restaurants serve heaping plates of nachos loaded up with vegan cheese and sour cream.
Donuts are prohibitively time consuming to make at home. But there are vegan donut places all over the world. And many Whole Foods Markets carry locally-made vegan doughnuts. Cupcakes are somewhat less unhealthy than doughnuts since they’re not deep-fried, and they’re also much easier to make. Any good vegan dessert cookbook will feature vegan cupcake recipes.
Eating Junky Snacks at Home
What about ready-to-eat packaged vegan junk food? Potato chips obviously top the list. Specialty brands offer much higher quality than Pepsico-owned mass market chips. Cape Cod Kettle Chips are especially good. Kettle Brand pioneered premium potato chips back in the 1980s and something like half their offerings are vegan.
Frozen tater tots, baked in the oven, are the easiest way to make something at home that tastes like it’s straight out of the deep fryer. Plus they’re remarkably cheap. Accompany with ketchup or a savory dipping sauce. Ore-Ida Tater Tots, which are sold in the frozen section at any supermarket, are vegan. Most natural food stores stock organic tater tots that taste every bit as junky as Ore-Ida’s. You can also find frozen vegan hashbrowns almost anywhere, and they have the textures and flavors of tater tots in a slightly different form.
Pepperidge Farm cherry turnovers are friggin’ amazing and one of the tastiest accidentally vegan foods. Sadly, they’re bad for you through-and-through, with white flour, high fructose corn syrup, and no nutrients to speak of. I can’t really recommend them in good conscience since they’re one of the only grocery items still sold in the USA that contain hydrogenated oils, but that doesn’t stop me from devouring one every now and then.
Gourmet Vegan Snacks
Every cuisine offers items intended as snacks. But nobody takes snack food half as seriously as they do in India. There, a good 30 percent of the restaurants specialize in chaat, which is the Hindi word for snack food. The fact that every city has countless chaat houses and food carts is one of the greatest things about visiting India. Not only will the flavors blow you away, the food is ridiculously cheap. You can also find chaat houses in most large cities in the USA and Europe.
There’s an endless variety of chaat items, and none of them are good for you. But who cares, since this is some of the tastiest food you’ll ever eat? Nearly all chaat is vegetarian and much of it is vegan. Many chaat dishes include yogurt to cool down the spices, so this is the main dairy product vegans must take care to avoid.
Chaat is poorly suited to home cooking. These dishes may be informal street food, but most items take loads of preparation and are therefore best prepared in large batches. At least half the dishes involve deep frying, which is time consuming and hazardous to do at home. But when you go to a “chaat house,” all the prep-work has already been taken care of and you’ll get your piping hot order in minutes. Ideally you should visit these places with a few friends so you can split several dishes and sample everything.
Apart from chaat, I know of only one other gourmet-level vegan snacking option. In the Netherlands and Belgium, there’s a chain of Vegan Junk Food Bars. The stuff they offer is impossibly delicious—definitely every bit as good as the best chaat. The chain’s menu features top-quality junk food in the Western tradition, ranging from onion rings, wings, fries, and so forth. Pretty much everything is fried and the dipping sauces are outrageously good.
As you can see, vegans have limitless snack options. You can choose snacks that are incredibly convenient, snacks suitable for health nuts, and all sorts of sinfully delicious indulgences. If you’re moving toward a vegan diet, trying a few new snacks every week offers one of the best ways to hasten your progress.