Though you won’t find any mainstream supermarkets selling only vegan produce, you will find many popular UK stores offering a dedicated section or aisle specialising in nutritious vegan foods.
Thanks to the increase in supply of vegan meals and individual ingredients, shopping for a plant based diet doesn’t have to be a struggle. And if your local shop doesn’t have a vegan food section, you might be pleased to hear that there a few hidden treasures among the better known brands that are safe for vegans.
Take, for example, Ritz crackers, Kellogg’s (unfrosted) Pop-Tarts and Lindt Excellence Cocoa Bars. In 70%, 80% and 90%... so you might not have all of the ingredients to make a delicious, healthy vegan meal there but you can certainly find yourself a tasty treat to chew on! Plus, there are always healthy vegan options available such as lentils, quinoa, bananas, avocado and hummus available in most supermarkets if you don't have a sweet tooth.
Take note of my top 5 list of supermarkets stocking vegan-friendly food options.
1. The Co-Operative
The Co-Op, or The Co-Operative as it is now known, stocks a range of vegan-labelled products to choose from. From samosas to hot cross buns, you’ll find a range of options for any weeknight through to the weekend. They even sell their own branded vegan alcohol.
As part of their Autumn stock, the Co-Op added some aromatic prepared treats for vegans like Lentil Dahl Soup and Three Bean Chilli, as well as a glorious frozen Butternut Squash And Quinoa Roast with an apple and plum sauce.
In addition to their range of healthy ready meals, they also stock some great lighter lunch options like an Onion Bhaji Sandwich, a Red Pepper and Kalamata Olive Pasta bowl and a Coconut and Cauliflour Meal Pot, all of which are low in fat. The latter two also make up 1 of your 5 a day as well as being great sources of fibre.
But if it's the sweet stuff you're interested, then you won't be disappointed by The Co-Op's vegan offerings. Their vegan jam and custard doughnuts are very popular among vegan eaters as well as their popcorn. The Co-Op is also one of the few mainstream shops that stocks its own brand of vegan wine.
While they offer a good deal of lines for vegans and vegetarians, they also have special household and cleaning products that are cruelty-free.
If you want to find out more about The Co-Op's vegan products and which ones are available at your local store, why not check out their blog.
2. Marks and Spencer
With a nice selection of yummy sweets and a collection of vegan chocolate all suitable for vegans and vegetarians, the trusty old M&S delivers once again. They also offer dairy-free ice creams and vegan sandwich lunch options. This is a blessing for those who forget their lunch box on their way to work!
Marks and Spencer offers its customers a good range of party food, suitable for vegans. Plus, they've released a brand new vegan and vegetarian range this past Autumn with thirteen products in it, just some of which are Sweetcorn and Chickpea Burgers, Beetroot Falafel and Sweet Potato Steak.
Interestingly, they've also brought out exclusive plant-based soy proteins to replace chicken and beef mince: Veggie Chunks and Veggie Mince, which tastes delicious.
M&S has a relatively long list of dishes that are suitable for vegans which is updated each month for accuracy and consistency. They also pride themselves on their customer service and state on their website that a member of staff in store can help you find out what's available to you in that particular branch.
What's more, it isn't just the shops that have vegan foods on offer, their numerous food halls are also full of delicious vegan options, labelled with the logo.
Sainsbury’s offer their customers a reasonable choice of vegan ingredients and dishes. Their Freefrom line offers vegan-labelled products, including vegan-friendly Turkish delights and ice creams. In their frozen section, you will find meat-free meatballs and burgers alongside Quorn and Linda McCartney products.
If in doubt about which products are vegan or not, then use an Internet search to find out the vegan products shocked by Sainsbury's. Among the list, you will find a range of frozen goods that can be kept for months at a time (great for if you're running low on ideas for meals and inspiration for desserts), such as vegan pizza or vegetarian chilli, along with some household, beauty and health products, like Berocca energy vitamins and l'Oreal face cream.
Also, as of November 2017, vegans can treat themselves to egg and dairy-free marshmallows, which come in pink and white, as well as a vegan whipped cream, which is said to go very well with a vegan hot chocolate!
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As previously mentioned, Sainsbury's candy ranges are quite substantial. In addition to those mentioned above, customers can also purchase tangy sour snakes, cola bottles, raspberry liquorice and cranberry and orange fudge bites.
Just like its previous competitor, Tesco stocks an array of products suitable for a vegan diet, including cheeses, margarine, yoghurts, and ice cream. Their frozen foods section comprises of soya mince, kale and butternut squash roasts and falafels.
If you have seen the collection of recipe cards in Tesco stores, you may be wondering if the food giant also has recipes dedicated to vegans. The answer is yes.
While they may not be available in card form at every shop, you can look at the Tesco Real Food pages online and discover a selection of vegan recipes, suitable for a quick mid-week meal or for a more relaxed dinner party at the weekend.
Furthermore, Tesco announced earlier this year that it was releasing a new oven food range named 'Wicked Kitchen', which celebrates all that is 'Wicked' about plants. In collaboration with chef Derek Sarno, it has created irresistible, tasty and mighty flavoursome prepared meals for the vegan and vegetarian markets. This exciting development means that being vegan doesn't have to mean eating boring foods like whole grain rice, red lentil, quinoa salad and kale chips!
Lunches in the range include Carrot Pastrami-Spiced Wrap, Sweet Potato Pakora Wrap, Rainbow Curry Salad Bowl and Moroccan-Inspired Bowl, while meal options consist of sourdough pizzas, burritos, noodles and mushroom bolognese.
As you might expect, Waitrose delivers the goods when it comes to a specific diet like veganism. Their extensive range of healthy vegan foods includes basil tofu, hotdogs, ice cream, curries, crisps and crumbles. Big name brands include Quorn and Cauldron.
Waitrose's vegan section on its website is very easy to navigate, with sections to choose from ranging from Bakery to World Foods.
As you would expect, the line includes fruit, vegetables, salads, seeds, nuts, plant proteins, frozen foods, and much more.
Meanwhile, Waitrose announced late last year that it had teamed up with a vegan butcher in order to produce a brand new range of vegan products for its customers. This is as a result of plant-based foods being in such high demand. This partnership means that you can expect to see lots more of the recipes you have longed for, like interesting veggie burgers, a warming casserole, vegetarian chilli, spicy enchiladas, a rich vegan lasagna and maybe even a colourful vegetable curry. Who thinks that Waitrose, and the other shops in our top 5, should have a poll so that people can suggest some of their best ever best vegan meal ideas? Also, wouldn't it be nice if there were a meal delivery service close to you offering vegan lunches or meals?
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The Top 5: A Roundup
Here is a roundup of the top five supermarkets for vegan food, and what makes them stand out from their competition.
|The Co-Operative||Stocks vegan-labelled goods, including take-away style elements and alcohol|
|Marks and Spencer||Offers vegan-friendly confectionary, chocolate, ice cream and even has vegan lunches to go|
|Sainsbury's||Has a Freefrom line that includes a variety of vegan ingredients and meal alternatives|
|Tesco||Includes vegan cheese, yoghurts and ice cream as well as frozen items like mince meat alternatives, falafels and butternut squash roasts|
|Waitrose||Stocks Quorn and Cauldron products plus an extensive range of vegan foods|
Other Suprisingly Good Finds
They may not have made it into my (or The Vegan Society's) top five, however Morrisons, Aldi and Asda do offer some great vegan foods.
While the high scorers featured above have specially-labelled lines for vegans, these brands seem to stock vegan goods more ‘by accident’, making them seem even more like hidden treasures!
Granted, it is much easier to go to a shop's website and search for vegan items, but where's the fun in that?! Be prepared to spend a little while browsing and scrutinising labels but it well worth it when you find a gem of a treat tucked away in your local store, that many of your fellow vegans don't even know about. Just like vegetarian items though, most vegan foods will display the vegan mark on their packaging.
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The question is, will you spill the beans and announce to the world what you've found or will you keep it your little secret?
Likewise, Lidl don’t have a great range of vegan foods but they do label their foods clearly and are cooperative when you ask them questions in store or by email.
Making Your Own Vegan Food
Of course, you don't have to buy already prepared meals. You can make many food products yourself, using dairy, meat and egg alternatives to cook with. For example, there are many ingredients suitable for vegans that can be used to make homemade vegan cheeses, mayonnaise and dips in place of the full fat alternatives.
For a more extensive list of vegan food alternatives, read the blog What Is Vegan Food And Where Do I Get It?
Furthermore, if you'd like to see some of the best vegan recipes out there, or find easy vegan recipes that won't be too challenging to cook, then why not take a look at some of my selected vegan and vegetarian recipes. You can visit the blog here: 10 Vegan Recipes That Will Turn Heads.
While I wasn't able to list every vegan recipe, I came across some fantastic meal ideas for vegans including savoury pancakes, curried stews, roasted cauliflower, stuffed tomatoes, a one pot Mexican casserole, pecan bread, bean soup, sundried tomato bruschetta, pumpkin pie, coconut rice, carrot soup, black bean burritos, vegan mac and cheese, bean burgers, chickpea curry, noodle salad and garlicky dried tomato with spaghetti. You see, there are so many options for dinner recipes out there!
Many dishes that I came to see were tasty British, American, Asian and Mediterranean infusions and ranged from fine dining to everyday cuisine. Meanwhile, the websites incorporated a mixture snack, breakfast, lunch, main meal, entrees and side dishes.
Furthermore, a number of vegan desserts also caught my eye. You can see ten of my favourite dairy free recipes by visiting: 10 Amazing Vegan Baking Recipes.
Other delightful puddings that I stumbled across were lemon syrup pancakes, blueberry muffins, strawberry and oatmeal cupcakes, vanilla and chocolate chip cookies (vegan chocolate, of course!), vegan chocolate brownies, apple and blueberry compote, cinnamon rolls, gingerbread men and crunchy ginger biscuits. If you thought it wasn't easy to find dessert recipes that don't use milk products, then just you go and see for yourself the many recipes for vegans which use clever alternatives to replace them!
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Learn More About Vegan Food
If you enjoyed reading this, why not check out our other blogs related to vegan food and vegan recipes to learn about the benefits of being vegan.