One of the main questions that always comes up with regard to a healthy eating regimen is, “Where in the hell do I find this stuff?” Believe me, it’s really not so hard these days.
Back in the early 90’s, it was a different story. Weeks after I decided to go veggie, I found myself on a tour bus for the better part of a year, cruising all over the country. That was a bitch, not only because I was still learning what to eat, but also because the national landscape for healthy/vegetarian food was way less consumer friendly than it is these days. In fact, you can find most everything you need, even in those smaller “B” and “C” markets.
So – not including restaurants or backyard gardens – here are my suggestions for your top seven places to buy your food and supplements. (This is mainly for North America, but many ideas will apply internationally):
1. The health food store: This would include places like Whole Foods Market or any of the hundreds of other full-on health food stores out there. Many of these places have organic produce, prepared-daily snacks and meals, an array of frozen foods and tons of other items in their isles and bulk bins, much of which is not available in your typical grocery store. In general, this will represent your highest level of quality and biggest selection.
2. The vitamin/supplement shop: Not to be confused with the full-range health food store (as described above), these places specialize almost exclusively in vitamins and other supplements like protein powders, canned diet shakes, various energy drinks and every other kind of over-priced, slickly-packaged fat-burning and muscle-building product du jour. Is there anything of value in these places? No doubt. But stick with the Rock-Solid recommendations and don’t be allured by the hype.
3. The grocery store: Virtually any large, commercial grocery store out there will have a number of Rock-Solid approved items in stock. They might either be limited to a special “health food” isle and/or scattered throughout the store in the respective areas; soy milk in the dairy section, healthy cereal in the regular cereal section, veggie burgers in the TV dinner section, etc. And, of course, you will always be able to find a full range of the basics: fresh and frozen fruit and veggies, canned beans, various nuts and seeds, and some good bread if you’re really lucky.
4. The specialty market: Trader Joe’s is a good example of this specialty, hybrid kind of store that is somewhere between a grocery store and a health food market. They tend to feature a wide variety of delicious ethnic foods and ingredients, some of their own private label products and, in general, higher quality food than your typical grocery store.
5. The local farmer’s market: This is usually the best place to find the freshest fruit and veggies because they’re locally grown and usually organic. And, as a bonus, the prices can be very reasonable.
6. The local ethnic grocery market: Many cities will have privately owned markets that cater to the local ethnic population (Hispanic, Middle Eastern, etc.) Almost across the board, these places are a gold mine for produce that is often a fraction of the price of what you’ll find at the local grocery store. So even if you’re on a “broke-ass musician” budget, there is no reason to avoid produce!
7. The Internet: For key supplements and non-perishable food items, the Internet presents a lot of fantastic options. There are now a host of web sites that specialize in a wide variety of vegan products, any of which can be conveniently shipped to your doorstep. Here are a couple suggestions in tracking things down:
A) For tough-to-find items, veganessentials.com (my favorite) is one of many sites that has an excellent selection. Google away for more options.
B) Believe it or not, if you have a particular supplement in mind, try doing a general product search on amazon.com. They often have the best prices around. Plus, they sometimes have reasonable quantity offers where you can get free shipping if you buy x-amount of a certain product.
All for now, kids.