A Festive Supermarket Feast

18th Dec 20 by Megan Romania, Fundraising Coordinator & Jessica Sinclair Taylor, Head of Policy and Media

We set out to taste test plant-based meals from the top 10 UK supermarkets so that you don’t have to.

This year, more and more people are choosing to eat plant-based (vegan) meals for the holidays than ever before. Supermarkets are tapping into this desire and have increasingly expanded their vegan and vegetarian holiday meal offerings.

But, not all plant-based ready-made meals are the same, especially in the holiday section of the supermarket. That’s why a few of us at Feedback set out on a festive quest to find the best – and the worst – plant-based ready-made holiday meals*, so that you don’t have to.

To treat all supermarkets fairly, we developed some general criteria:

  1. First, the meals we purchased had to be in the supermarket’s holiday offerings to judge how well supermarkets are helping consumers eat largely plant-based meals during the holiday season.
  2. Second, all purchases were made in-store rather than online to determine how accessible and available the meals are, given that most shoppers are still making purchases in-store.
  3. Third, we specifically sought out exclusively plant-based (vegan) ready-made meals, acknowledging the dairy sector’s contribution to the climate and ecological crises (and thus excluding vegetarian meals).

So, who were the winners?

While we hope that this video helps to spread some holiday cheer and create excitement around plant-based holiday meals, we did have another reason for our supermarket excursions.

Just last week the UK’s Committee on Climate Change advised the government that eating less meat – between 20-40% less by 2050 was their suggestion – is a ‘low cost, no regrets’ measure to help fight climate change. The fact is, we can’t decarbonise the UK economy without looking at what we eat.

That being the case, we think supermarkets need to step up and play their part. As the businesses with the greatest power in our supply chains, and the biggest influence on our buying habits, it’s important that supermarkets commit to selling less meat, as well as raising the standards of the meat they do sell, to ensure, for example, that it isn’t directly linked to deforestation in the Brazilian Cerrado.

The good news is that there is growing public appetite for reduced meat consumption, which means supermarkets, who control over 94% of the UK groceries market, have a unique opportunity to be at the forefront of this change.

Sign up to hear more about this campaign when it launches in January (or should we say, Veganuary).

*Dishes we trialled

The good:

  • Aldi: Vegan Butternut Squash and Chickpea Pastry Parcels
  • Co-Op: Vegan Mediterranean Style Vegetable Tarts
  • Morrison’s: Vegan No Pigs in Blankets
  • M&S: Vegan Potato Dauphinoise
  • Sainsbury’s: Vegan Mushroom and Nut Roast
  • Waitrose: Vegan Festive Filo Swirl

The bad:

  • Asda: Vegan Chestnut & Cranberry Yule Log
  • Iceland: Vegan Nut Roast

The absent:

Sadly, our mystery shoppers found Tesco’s holiday in-store offerings were far too meaty for this trial. Similarly, at Lidl we only found the Vegan Festive Feast grab and go sandwich, which – in addition to being questionable in its holiday suitability – was made to taste like meat. This might work for people who want to eat plant-based for health or environmental reasons but still like the taste of meat, but it was a miss for our Feedbacker and a missed opportunity for Lidl to appeal to the wider plant-based market.

What can you do next?

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