There is no doubt that plant-based eating is on the rise, and manufacturers, retailers and restaurants are making and selling vegan fare like never before. From vegan meats to dairy-free milks, from the very best chocolate to the plant-based cheese that hits the spot, the choices for those adopting a plant-based diet are growing week by week. But with so much animal-free food available, which companies are getting it right?
To find out, Veganuary – the charity that encourages people to try vegan in January – launched the Great Big Vegan Food Survey in May this year, and 6,500 of its participants and supporters responded. The poll showed that the UK leaders in the vegan field are:
Best cheese: Violife
Best vegan meat: Linda McCartney
Best dairy-free milk: Alpro
Best ice cream: Swedish Glace
Best chocolate: Green & Blacks
The most loved dairy-free cheese is Violife, which polled 37 per cent of the votes. Its huge range of cheeses – with flavours including cheddar, smoked and with hot peppers, and coming in slices, blocks and already-grated – make them a firm favourite with British vegans. In joint second place, polling 20 per cent of the vote each, came Tesco and Sainsbury’s Free-from own brands.
The winner of the vegan meat contest by a very long way was veteran brand, Linda McCartney Foods, which was established in 1991. Among its meat-free products, there is plenty to suit vegans, including sausages, sausage rolls, Country Pies, shredded hoisin duck, Vegemince and 1/4lb burgers. The runner-up was Quorn, which has only recently added vegan options to its meat-free range, but its breaded fillets, nuggets and fishless fish fingers have won the nation’s hearts and taste buds.
Alpro, which built its first UK factory in 1996, was voted the best brand for plant milks. Its range includes milks made from soya, coconut, almond, rice, oats and cashew, and the company also produces flavoured milks. It polled an impressive 55 per cent of the vote.
The best dairy-free ice cream had two clear favourites: Swedish Glace came top with 28 per cent, with Alpro snapping at its heels with 26 per cent. Swedish Glace produces vanilla, raspberry and chocolate flavours and has recently introduced a strawberry choc-ice. Most supermarkets carry Swedish Glace ice cream. Alpro is new to the ice cream game, but its Vanilla, Hazelnut & Chocolate, and Coconut flavours have become firm favourites.
When it comes to chocolate, there was little to separate the top three. Green & Blacks just pipped Booja Booja and Vego to the top spot but all three are producing chocolate that is the envy of vegans around the world. Green & Blacks vegan range includes the ever-popular Maya Gold, while Booja Booja produces exquisite champagne, espresso and cherry cognac truffles. Vego Bar is a dairy-milk-style chocolate bar filled with hazelnuts that has been the undoing of many a health-conscious vegan.
Says Veganuary CEO Simon Winch:
‘The days of vegans struggling to find great food are well and truly over with manufacturers and retailers tripping over themselves to bring out plant-based ranges and cash in on the vegan pound. As a result, we’re seeing a dramatic increase in delicious foods that appeal to vegans, vegetarians and omnivores. And companies that traditionally relied on animal products are creating more and more plant-based options. We’d like to congratulate the crème de la vegan crème – Violife, Linda McCartney Foods, Alpro, Swedish Glace and Green & Blacks – for leading the way.’
Veganuary 2018 is proudly sponsored by Pulsin.