The tasting has been done and the judges have given their verdicts...
For the first-ever Vegan Food & Living Product Awards, we gathered the best vegan products on the market and put them to the test. To ensure it wasn’t just our opinions on offer, we constructed a panel of experts for a fun day of tasting at Demuth’s Vegan Cookery School in Bath.
There are 12 categories, ranging from best vegan snacks to meat alternatives and desserts. Each product is rated on taste, texture and consistency to find out which ones stood out.
To make sure people didn’t choose a favourite brand, it was a blind taste test, with no one seeing the packaging or knowing what the product was until after the tasting!
Meet the judges
Roxy and Ben are the co-founders of So Vegan. Using their online platforms, they share their tasty vegan recipes to promote healthy vegan lifestyles. Their debut cookbook, So Vegan in 5, offers over 100 simple, 5-ingredient recipes that highlight how easy vegan cooking can be. www.wearesovegan.com
Niki Webster is the founder of Rebel Recipes. For Niki, plant-based eating isn’t a trend, she has always been passionate about creating and experimenting with her recipes, which are inspired by her time travelling around Asia experiencing the local vegetarian and vegan food. www.rebelrecipes.com
Katy Beskow started her recipe blog, Little Miss Meat-Free, back in 2013. Katy has demonstrated at festivals, worked with well-known brands, written for national magazines and she has three best-selling vegan cookbooks. Her fourth, Five Ingredient Vegan, came out in November. katybeskow.com
Maryanne Hall is the Food and Cookery Coordinator for Bristol-based vegan charity, Viva! The charity aims to educate people on the facts of veganism and how it can benefit all of our lives and the whole planet by campaigning for a vegan world. Maryanne develops delicious recipes for the charity’s recipe club, which you can find at www.veganrecipeclub.org.uk
Robbie Tack is the owner of vegan restaurant Nourish in Bath. The food at Nourish is 100 per cent plant-based and each dish is cooked from scratch. The Head Chef does not use processed soya or rapeseed products in any of the dishes and seasonal vegetables are sourced locally. nourishbath.co.uk
Jennie Tame is the founder of The Hungry Herbie, a discount card that enables the user to get great discounts on a wide range of vegan food and products across the Bath and Bristol area. www.thehungryherbie.co.uk
Stu Henshall Since appearing as a contestant on The Great British Bake Off, Stu is the man behind The Alternative Kitchen, which offers vegan related services including menu and service development, concept to service consultancy, cookery courses, recipe writing, demonstrations and private catering. www.thealternativekitchen.net
Helen Lawrence and Georgia Barton are the new co-owners of Demuth’s Cookery School in Bath. Founded in 2000, Demuths teaches an exciting and varied selection of plant-based and vegan courses for all abilities. Helen and Georgia have both worked at the school for years, but took over ownership in 2019. Visit demuths.co.uk
And now here are the results…
Stowford Press has been making great tasting cider for 30 years. Their low alcohol version has crisp apple notes with hints of apple skin – smoothed out with subtle notes of sweetness and a bitter finish.
It may seem odd for a low alcohol product to win Best Vegan Alcohol, but as this was a blind taste test the judges didn’t know this, and were just won over by the delicious flavour!
“Very easy to drink, not too sweet” – Niki Webster, Rebel Recipes “Balance and fresh flavour, easy to drink” – Katy Beskow
“Balance and fresh flavour, easy to drink” – Katy Beskow
Proudly Vegan Prosecco £10.99 – Available from Ocado
Proudly Vegan is on a mission to prove great wine does not require any animal product to be used in the production process. The prosecco has delicate aromas of hazelnut and apple with a crisp refreshing finish.
“Not too bubbly or dry” – Robbie Tack, owner of Nourish
“Floral and fruity, thumbs up” – Ben Pook, So Vegan
Alpine combines a lively lager with the zest of freshly ripe peaches. All Jubel beers are gluten-free, vegan-friendly and naturally infused, so nobody will miss out!
“Fruity, light, refreshing, great for summer” – Robbie Tack, owner of Nourish
“Nice flavour, light, easy drinking” – Niki Webster, Rebel Recipes
Best Vegan Burger
Oumph Burger £3.50 – Available at ASDA
This plant-based burger takes inspiration from a rare burger, but removes the meat! Its red colour comes from beetroot and the patty offers a meaty taste and texture.
“Salty, smokey burger, perfect for BBQ’s” – Jenni Tame, The Hungry Herbie
“Tastes like a burger, crust and centre pretty bang on. Very enjoyable taste and texture” – Stu Henshall, The Alternative Kitchen
Fry strives to find a way to make nutritious plant-based products for the whole family to enjoy. Its quinoa burger is seasoned with rosemary, marjoram and sage, rolled in a light gluten-free crumb.
“Breadcrumbed, mild, homely, crisp lovely texture inside, delicious!” – Katy Beskow
“Crunch on the outside, nice concept, haven’t seen anything like it” – Roxy Pope, So Vegan
Quorn Ultimate Burger £3 – Available at supermarkets
Quorn have long created vegetarian options, but are now venturing into the vegan market. This gourmet, thick-cut quarter pounder uses the juice of beets to get the succulent flavour.
“Balanced flavour and light texture” – Roxy Pope, So Vegan
“Strong, quite sweet, would be well suited to a BBQ” – Katy Beskow
This has captured hearts with its innovative great taste; it’s made with coconut oil, potato and corn starch and natural smoke flavour.
“Nice subtle flavour, holds together well” – Roxy Pope, So Vegan
“Pretty close to dairy, perfect for sliced cheese” – Stu Henshall, The Alternative Kitchen
Violife Greek White Block £2.69 – Available from most supermarkets including TheVeganKind Supermarket
Inspired by Violife’s Greek heritage, this cheese is a blend featuring coconut oil. Great on its own or with a salad, olives and tomatoes.
“Excellent flavour, the texture resembles feta more closely than any other Greek-style cheese” – Maryanne Hall, Viva!’s recipe writer
“Creamy and tasty, would be good in salads or melted into dishes” – Jenni Tame, Hungry Herbie
Applewood Vegan £2.30 – Available from selected Asda stores and TheVeganKind Supermarket
Applewood have been making dairy-based cheeses since 1965 and their hotly anticipated vegan cheese has finally arrived. Smooth and creamy, Applewood’s vegan cheese has a coconut base and has a smoky flavour comparable to Applewood’s dairy cheeses.
“Almost identical to Applewood smoked Cheddar… huge thumbs up” – Maryanne Hall, Viva!’s recipe writer
“Strong smoked taste” – Stu Henshall, The Alternative Kitchen
This zesty twist on your ordinary chocolate bar is the combination of crushed raspberries and coconut oil all the way from the Philippines. This chocolate bar is also palm oil-free and uses fully compostable packaging!
“Very rich chocolate and good texture” – Niki Webster, Rebel Recipes
“Good cocoa content and a good snap” – Jenni Tame, Hungry Herbie
Moo Free Hazelnut Truffles £4.99 – Available from supermarkets including TheVeganKind Supermarket
These award-winning truffles are filled with a luscious, caramelised hazelnut centre and then coated with a dairy-free milk chocolate. Moo Free chocolates are also gluten and soya free.
“Nice hazelnut flavour, good glaze” – Robbie Tack, owner of Nourish
‘‘Wicked ganache, nice and ‘milky’ – Stu Henshall, The Alternative Kitchen
Mummy Meagz has been breaking vegan stigmas with its trailblazing rocky road, free of nuts and fruits. This gooey, crunchy bar is infused with bits of honeycomb and a dash of sea salt.
“Very sweet, good flavour, good texture, smooth with bits of crunch and fluffy marshmallow” – Maryanne Hall, Viva!’s recipe writer
“Lovely salty caramel flavour, soft, indulgent and tasty!” – Ben Pook, So Vegan
Best Vegan Dessert
Wicked Kitchen Sticky Toffee Pudding £4 – Available at Tesco stores
One of the latest additions to the Wicked Kitchen range is the Sticky Toffee Pudding, a perfect option for dessert this winter! Made with a hint of ginger and topped with coconut.
“Very subtle ginger, good texture, like the squishy cake” – Niki Webster, Rebel Recipes
“Enjoyable, nice and moist” – Robbie Tack, owner of Nourish
Dolcetta Cannoli £4 Available at Dolcetta Bakery in London
These cannoli by London’s vegan bakery are handmade and each crisp cannoli shell is dipped in dark chocolate, coated with nuts and filled with sweet vegan ricotta.
“Pretty to look at, sweet and good textures” – Robbie Tack, owner of Nourish
“Nice pastry, interesting flavours, love the variety. Great texture, creamy and chocolatey, extremely good” – Maryanne Hall, Viva!’s recipe writer
Costa Fruited Teacake Available at Costa
A delicious snack that can be enjoyed throughout the day.
“Great fruit flavours, akin to its dairy brethren, as good as it gets” – Stu Henshall, The Alternative Kitchen
“Lovely! Subtle sweetness from the raisins and toasts well” – Roxy Pope, So Vegan
Best Vegan Meat Substitute
Linda McCartney Shredded Hoisin Duck £2.50 – Available from most supermarkets
Linda McCartney took her passion for great food and used it to create an innovative and tasty range of vegetarian and vegan products. This meat substitute is a well-seasoned, shredded vegetarian hoisin ‘duck’ made from rehydrated textured soya and wheat protein.
“Firm, chewy and realistic, a good mock meat” – Helen Lawrence and Georgia Barton, Demuths and Maryanne Hall
“Nice flavouring, good texture, would be great in stir frys” – Jenni Tame, The Hungry Herbie
Pulled Oumph! £2 – Available from supermarkets
Oumph! is passionate about creating food that is delicious, easy to cook and good for the environment. Pulled Oumph! consists of chunks of soy protein in BBQ sauce.
“Nice spice to it, tangy, good level of heat, looks impressive. It is the closest thing to a chicken wing we have eaten since going vegan” – Roxy Pope, So Vegan
“Good flavour, squashy texture, most meat-like” – Niki Webster, Rebel Recipes
Quorn Pieces £2.50 – Available from supermarkets
Quorn chooses to use mycoprotein, a nutritious protein source, in all of their products. Quorn are remaining conscious about the planet by consistently innovating to reduce plastic in its packaging. Quorn is high in protein, a great source of fibre and low in saturated fat.
“Would be nice marinated and with a sauce” – Katy Beskow
“Will absorb whatever flavour you put with it, good texture and easiest to cook with” – Maryanne Hall, Viva!’s recipe writer
TRIBE protein bars are made from a mix of fruits, nuts, pea and rice protein and nutrient-rich natural ingredients such as maca. These bars are 100% natural, provide 20% protein, are gluten-, dairy- and added sugar-free.
“Peanutty with a hint of chocolate, nice texture and felt like the healthiest option” – Robbie Tack, owner of Nourish
“Nice nutty pieces of texture” – Helen Lawrence and Georgia Barton, Demuths
“Easy to eat and tastes nutritious!” – Katy Beskow
Pulsin Caramel Choc and Peanut Booster 99p – Available from Holland & Barrett
Pulsin’s goal is to create tasty nutritionally balanced products to suit everyone’s needs. This protein booster is a blend of pea and rice protein with the added taste of peanuts and chocolate chips sweetened with Xylitol.
“Dense and fudgy texture, a great after-dinner nibble, delicious” – Helen Lawrence and Georgia Barton, Demuths
“Sweet caramel flavour, would make a nice afternoon snack” – Ben Pook, So Vegan
Perkier BITES £1.30 – Available from supermarkets including TheVeganKind Supermarket
Perkier products are free from gluten, wheat, dairy and palm oil. Creamy and rich, with a unique melt in your mouth texture, these Perkier Bites are a great source of protein.
“Quite a fun texture” – Helen Lawrence, Demuths
“The crunchy grain is nice” – Georgia Barton, Demuths
Best Vegan Plant Milk
Califia Farms Oat Barista Blend £1.95 – Available from Morrisons
Perfect in coffee or by itself, the Oat Barista Blend is unsweetened and made with whole rolled, gluten-free oats grown in North America. This blend is also free from dairy, nut and sugar.
“Very creamy, natural and full flavoured. Smooth consistency, good in coffee” – Helen Lawrence and Georgia Barton, Demuths
“Rich, oaty flavour, nice consistency” – Niki Webster, Rebel Recipes
“Best flavour, best one for sure” – Robbie Tack, owner of Nourish
Rude Health Almond Drink £2 – Available from supermarkets
To make this delicious milk alternative, creamy crushed almond is blended with rice, spring water and a dash of sunflower oil. This ‘milk’ is free from gluten, thickeners, dairy and added sugar.
“Sweet and cohesive flavour, smooth and creamy consistency” – Helen Lawrence and Georgia Barton, Demuths
“The colour and consistency closely resembles dairy milk” – Ben Pook, So Vegan
Sproud Original Drink £1.35 – Available at TheVeganKind Supermarket
Sproud is determined to create products that are good for you and for the planet. Its drink, powered by peas, is free from dairy, soy, nuts and gluten and has a minimal carbon footprint.
“Nice and creamy consistency” – Maryanne Hall, Viva!’s recipe writer
“Nice smooth consistency” – Roxy Pope, So Vegan
Best Vegan Ready meals
M&S Plant Kitchen Green Thai Curry £3.50 – Available at all M&S stores
M&S Plant Kitchen meals are vegan, hearty and a perfect on-the-go dinner option. The Green Thai Curry is served with jasmine rice and the fish flavour sauce is created using fermented chilli paste and toban jhan.
“Big flavour, spicy kick, satisfying meal with a good ratio of rice and veg” – Ben Pook, So Vegan
“Good strong flavour with a nice bit of kick. Good creamy sauce, definitely not bland.” – Maryanne Hall, Viva!
Mitch’s Kitchen Spanish Tapas £6.75 – Available online and from selected retailers
Mitch’s Kitchen’s colourful meals are vegan, free from gluten, nuts, palm oil and refined sugar. The Spanish Tapas includes roasted hand-rolled garlic and herb ‘Beet Balls’, skin-on patatas bravas served in a rich tomato sauce with spinach, butter beans and black olives with a side of tofu frittatas.
“Packed full of flavour” – Robbie Tack, owner of Nourish
“Nice variety of flavours, good spices and seasoning. A good healthy option” – Maryanne Hall, Viva!’s recipe writer
Tesco Wicked Kitchen Naked Burrito £4 – Available from Tesco stores
Tesco’s attempt to bring vegan cuisine into the mainstream has resulted in a collaboration with chef Derek Sarno to create Wicked Kitchen. The Naked Burrito is made from spiced mixed beans, tomato rice, pulled marinated roasting oyster mushrooms, kale and spiced mixed vegetable, topped with jalapeño chilli and lime wedge.
“Good flavours, mix of textures” – Niki Webster, Rebel Recipes
“Well balanced with just enough enough heat and some veggies and refried beans” – Ben Pook, So Vegan
Best Vegan Sandwich
Tesco, Wicked Italian Cold Cut Sandwich £3 – Available from Tesco stores
Wicked Kitchen are pushing the boundaries of vegan cuisine with their cold cut sub. This tasty sub is a mixed herb roll, filled with roasted celeriac, dairy-free smoked Gouda style cheese, green peppers and spinach.
“Love the pickled pepper and smoked ‘cheese’. Very satisfying and clever use of celeriac” – Stu Henshall, The Alternative Kitchen
“Good flavour, great use of vegetables as meat, cheese is good and not waxy. Great texture and taste” – Jenni Tame, The Hungry Herbie
M&S No Turkey Feast £3.30 – Available from M&S stores
Part of the M&S Plant Kitchen range, this sandwich replaces traditional festive meat with seasoned roasted soya. The mock meat is marinated with sage, garlic, salt and pepper, and then steam roasted.
“Nice and moist, interesting flavour, I like the use of mock meats. A good shop-bought option” – Maryanne Hall, Viva!’s recipe writer
“I like the wholemeal bread, nice flavour to the fake meat” – Roxy Pope, So Vegan
Subway Vegan Sub £3.80
Made with either Italian or Hearty Italian bread, the Vegan Sub features a vegan patty made from red pepper, spicy chilli, garlic and red onion. Subway has also created a vegan garlic aioli to pair with the sub, but you can add whatever veggies and sauces you like! Other vegan-friendly sauces include BBQ, sweet onion, yellow mustard, HP brown sauces, sweet chilli and hot chilli.
“Patty has a good texture” – Jenni Tame, The Hungry Herbie
“Bread is nice and crispy, like the fresh veggies” – Roxy Pope, So Vegan
Best Vegan Sausage
Linda McCartney Vegetarian Sausages £2 – Available from supermarkets
Those involved with the Linda McCartney brand today, including the McCartney family, are dedicated to sharing Linda’s passion for wholesome cooking, kindness and compassion. These seasoned vegetarian sausage are made with rehydrated textured soya protein.
“Nice crispy outer and nice fluffy inside” – Roxy Pope and Ben Pook, So Vegan
“A good all rounder” – Jenni Tame, The Hungry Herbie
The Fry Family have used their passion and determination to create their tasty vegan meats. TheThese boerewors-seasoned sausages bring you the taste and aroma of the true South African braai.
“Good texture, would be good in a sandwich” – Jenni Tame, The Hungry Herbie
“Flavoursome, light texture” – Helen Lawrence and Georgia Barton, Demuths
Gosh! encourage a kinder way of living and are on a mission to bring nourishing experiences to as many people as possible. This veggie Cumberland style sausage is created with a blend of chickpea, butter bean and green lentil, blended with sage and black pepper.
“Lovely flavour of onion and spices” – Stu Henshall, The Alternative Kitchen
“Good for someone who doesn’t like meaty textures” – Jenni Tame, The Hungry Herbie
Best Vegan Snack
Candy Kittens Sour Watermelon £3 – Available from TheVeganKind Supermarket, supermarkets and online
Candy Kittens is a gourmet sweet brand that focuses on quality. The combination of beautiful packaging and authentic flavours have proved a great success for the brand. These sour sweets are gluten-free and made with natural flavours, colours and real fruit juices.
“Slightly sour but just enough sweetness not to overpower the taste, lovely chewiness” – Ben Pook, So Vegan
“Love the sugary texture and lovely chew, could eat a whole pack” – Katy Beskow
These hand-cooked crisps are free from gluten and dairy as well as vegan, halal and kosher certified.
“Good texture, better than Walkers” – Helen and Georgia, Demuths
“Nice firm crunch” – Robbie Tack, owner of Nourish
Purely Plantain Chips Nice & Spicy £2.75 – Available from Selfridges, Harvey Nichols and TheVeganKind Supermarket
Purely aims to be the UK’s first premium brand of plantain snacks. The Nice and Spicy chips are thick cut, smooth-textured and full-flavoured with a warm piquant chilli flavouring.
“Lovely savoury taste, nice firm texture” – Robbie Tack, owner of Nourish
“Smokey and spicy flavour, crisp melt-inthe- mouth texture, nice alternative to crisps” – Katy Beskow