Plant-based foods that intentionally mimic animal-sourced foods are sometimes called "transition foods". (Here’s a list of transition foods that I enjoy and are very close to their animal-sourced counterparts; there are many others.) Some people chose to include transition foods when switching to a vegan diet, which can make the transition easier. For one, the option to continue eating familiar foods means less perceived change, which can obviously make change easier. Cultural reasons can also factor. For instance, you can have the same food as your friends and family at the next cookout or holiday gathering (just in their animal-free form). I personally love to include transition foods around nonvegan friends and family to advertise how easy and tasty veganism can be. This is not a page about nutrition, which is covered in our Being Vegan article.
Many junk foods are accidently vegan, such as Oreos and Lays potato chips; I won’t be listing those here. I also won’t list the many well-documented vegan fast-food options (e.g., Burger King’s French toast sticks or Chipotle’s sofritas burrito). This article serves to list some of the many plant-based foods that mimic foods traditionally sourced from animals (pizza, cream cheese, chicken tenders, crab cakes, etc.), which are available at grocery stores across the US.
A note on availability
My wife and I are permanent travelers, living in an RV and moving states about every 2-3 months. As vegans and activists, we are always quick to investigate vegan options at local grocers in each new town. We've lived in the West, Midwest, South (and "Deep" South), and up and down both coasts, and it’s fair to say that vegan options vary by location. Items like black-bean burgers and plant-based milk (soy, almond, coconut, etc.) are available everywhere we go. Plant-based hotdogs, chicken tenders, steak strips, beef crumbles, dressing/mayonnaise and ice cream are almost everywhere. Some items such mac ‘n cheese, sour cream, cheese, mock seafood, and pizza are a little more sparse, but becoming increasingly popular (I just made an excellent Philly cheese steak from ingredients purchased at a Walmart in DeSoto, TX).
The following items are typically found in one of three sections: the frozen section (either specialty/novelty or dessert); the specialty section in the produce area (this is where tofu, tempeh, and sometimes hummus are); the specialty section in the dairy aisle. If you don’t see them, ask! Health-food chains like Whole Foods have these items throughout the store.
Notes: ice cream is listed in Dessert. This list doesn't include plant-based milks (soy, almond, coconut, etc.), which can be found in any US grocery store, typically right next to the dairy milk.
Earth Balance makes a variety of intentionally vegan snack food, including:
Tip: the Whole Foods bakery section has fresh made cookies, pies, and cakes that are amazing and vegan. Just look for the vegan label or ask an associate in the bakery dept.
-Hampton Creek Just Cookie Dough comes in three varieties.
Note: sour cream is listed in Dairy.
-Hampton Creek (Ranch, Caesar, 1000 Island)
-Follow Your Heart (many, including Ranch and Bleu Cheese)
-Daiya (Caesar, Ranch, Bleu Cheese)
-Hampton Creek (many flavors, including regular, garlic, and sriracha)
-Follow Your Heart (many flavors, including regular, pesto, and chipotle)
-Daiya (many different topping choices, including veggies, cheese-lovers, and vegan sausage or pepperoni)
Mac 'n Cheese