Whether you’re planning to make a short-term switch to a vegan diet through a challenge like Veganuary, or have a lifelong swap from meat to plants planned, it’s not always easy to know what to cook when you first make the change. You might start with grand aspirations about the many interesting plant-based meals you’re going to make, but after a couple of weeks, when you’re chowing down on yet another plate of chips, you might concede that some help is needed when it comes to make a vegan diet healthy and varied.
Enter two types of subscription services: the recipe box and the meal delivery service. The former sends all the ingredients you need to make a healthy, easy and delicious plant-based meal to your door with clear instructions on how to put them together, while the latter sends prepared meals for you to reheat. Here are our favourites for you to try, and since we’ve tried everything on this page (and more) we’ve marked out the standouts with our Editor’s Choice badge.
Vegan Recipe Boxes
Most recipe box services have taken steps to be more environmentally friendly, using recyclable packaging and bundling up deliveries to avoid too many trips to similar areas. However, Dishy has gone further than most with its Essentials Box, a separate purchase which contains common spices and other ingredients you’ll need for the recipes in refillable jars and large bottles. This avoids single-serve plastic sachets for each recipe, which is a glaringly wasteful thing that you come across with recipe box services.
The Essentials Box costs £14.99, which is solid value for what it contains, but you can also see what ingredients are in the box and buy them separately if you prefer. The recipe cards are only available digitally as well, which again is better for the environment, although not ideal if you want to keep your laptop or tablet out of the kitchen.
We tried three Dishy meals and enjoyed them all, the black bean stew with guacamole being the highlight. All three meals were easy and quick to make, and the serving sizes were adequate, though you might need an extra side if you’re very active. The plentiful quantities of veg, beans and pulses used helps ensure that these are healthy meals, and all were pretty tasty too, if not the most delicious we’ve tried from recipe boxes.
Buy from Dishy | From £8.99 a meal
With Gousto’s recipe boxes you pick from a large selection of meals each week and there are always several excellent vegan options. The recipes are always easy to make and meticulously planned so you’re not rushing to get them done in the predicted prep time.
The meals are also divided up into different ranges, including Lean In 15 meals from Joe Wicks. This range includes one vegan option at the moment with others on the way, including an appetising miso tofu with stir-fried ginger greens recipe. The meals don’t all take 15 minutes to make, but they are all marked as either high or low in carbs, so you can pick meals that line up with your dietary requirements or your day’s activities. As keen runners we preferred the high-carb recipes to refuel after training, while the low-carb options are better for rest days.
Gousto’s boxes are also slightly cheaper than rivals like Mindful Chef. The cheapest option for two people is £34.99 for four meals.
Mindful Chef caters to everyone: all its food is gluten- and dairy-free, and pescetarian and plant-based options available – you just have to be OK with its low-carb approach to meal times. Each week the menu includes several vegan options you can select to build your box, and while we’ve found Mindful Chef recipes to be slightly trickier than most in the past, they’re all, without exception, easy on the tastebuds.
The weekly line-up of recipes at Feast Box always includes several tasty vegan options, with the Asian and Middle Eastern menu offering legume-filled curries, tofu ramen and cauliflower steaks at the moment.
Vegan Meal Delivery Services
Our favourite purely plant-based meal delivery service, Allplants, doesn’t just cover your dinners – it has lunch and breakfast options too, as well as dessert, sides and smoothies. We’ve tested several of the dinners, lunches and sides, and have yet to come across one we didn’t rate – they’re all delicious, satisfying and healthy. Each of them contains at least two portions of your five-a-day, is high in fibre, and comes in under 600 calories, with low-calorie meals available too.
The ingredients used are impressively varied, and we bet even the most adventurous eaters will come across plants and recipes that are new to them. The new lunch bowls are a knockout too, each containing a variety of veg and grains alongside an out-of-the-ordinary mash like coconut and edamame.
You buy boxes of either six or 12 frozen meals (with the 12 meals you get two lots of six meals, rather than 12 different ones), and each meal takes six to 10 minutes to heat up in the microwave. Allplants scores well on sustainability too: not only can you recycle the meal trays, but you can return all packaging used to post them to you free, which the company will then reuse. The website is also transparent about supply chains and how Allplants is working to reduce its impact on the environment. Bravo.
Planty’s frozen meals are tasty, convenient and packed with a wide variety of healthy veg, and even fruit sometimes – the butternut and mango madras we tried was excellent. The company also has placed a welcome focus on sustainability, using 100% recyclable packaging and offering carbon-neutral deliveries.
You can buy the meals in a box of six, eight or 10 meals, choosing to either subscribe or receive a single delivery, with the subscription option netting you a discount (£4.95 per meal for a box of 10 as opposed to £5.45 if bought as a one-off). The meals can be heated up in a microwave straight from the freezer in under 10 minutes, and we found the portion sizes filling enough to avoid between-meal snacking, though an extra side will be welcome on more active days.
The highlights of the 10 dishes we tried were the curries and stews, along with the BBQ banana blossom burrito, which emerged from our microwave tasting fresh and delicious.
Buy from Planty | From £4.95 per meal
Unlike many meal delivery services which offer a few token vegan options, it’s all about plants at PEP Kitchen, where the entire range of meals for one and sharing dishes are vegan. The menu leans towards curries, dhals and stews, and all the meals arrive frozen so you can store them in your freezer safe in the knowledge a healthy vegan meal is never more than ten minutes away.
The sharing dishes from PEP Kitchen are a great option for two, because you can pick up a curry or similar and then cook your own rice and other sides at home, saving you the tricky bit of the meal prep and the expense of ordering two full ready-made meals.
Every meal we tried was packed with vegetables and although you can get the full nutritional information online, we never felt the need to check out the full stats, because they are so obviously healthy and balanced. On the packaging you also get some quick insights such as “under 400 calories” and how many portions of veg the meal contributes to your five-a-day, further confirming the nutritiousness of the meals.
While all the meals we tried were tasty, they’re not as delicious as some of the other options on this list. But since they’re generally low in calories and fat, you can treat yourself to something extra on the side.
Buy from PEP Kitchen | £5.75 per meal
You do have to get quite far into the ordering process before you let Gymology know that you only want vegan meals, but rest assured the option is there for all three of the service’s meal plans, which are tailored to different fitness goals. The build plan is for bulking up, and has high protein and high carb meals; the balance plan is the best for general weight management, with high protein and medium carb; and the burn plan is for losing weight, with high protein and low carb. Whatever way you go, one thing’s for sure – you’re getting a lot of protein.
Along with selecting vegan meals you can also pick ingredients you’d rather not have in your meals, and indicate any allergies. The meals come in regular and large sizes, and you can opt for a single bulk order of meals delivered weekly, or subscribe to get a slight discount on the price – for example, five large meals a week for four weeks costs £125 if you buy a batch, and £27.50 a week if you subscribe for an overall saving of £15.
We didn’t test any vegan meals while trying Gymology, but the meals we did try were hearty and tasty. One of the criticisms we had is that the vegetable count is a little low in the meaty meals, to the point we’d add a portion on the side in pursuit of our five-a-day, but that’s less of a problem if you go vegan.
You can get a taster box of four meals (two large, two regular) for £24 to try the service before committing to a month or a subscription.
Buy from Gymology | Subscriptions from £27.50 a week
Fresh Fitness Food
This meal delivery services has packages tailored to suit both fitness goals and dietary preferences. You can get your breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks delivered to your door each day if you really want to make your life easy. The meals all come packed in microwaveable containers and the menu is never short of plant-based options.
The extensive range of meal plans available from KBK includes a plant-based option, which offers two or three meals a day for six days a week. It’s a shame that KBK doesn’t offer vegan versions of its other plans, which include fitness-focused menus like one to help you get lean, as well as office-ready and student plans. The plant-based plan is also light on nutritional detail, aside from telling you the calorie count is 1,500 a day, which is pretty low.
We tried KBK’s meals, although not the plant-based plan, but we feel confident the vegan meals will be just as tasty as the animal-based ones. The meals come in microwaveable containers but lack nutritional info, which would have been useful to see on the label. You have to sign up for four weeks on the service if you opt for a KBK plan, but there are three-day taster plans, which we’d advise doing because the low-calorie approach won’t work for everyone.
Buy from KBK | From £15.75 a day (currently reduced to £10.24 per day)
The Transformation Chef
Balance is the name of the game for these microwave meals, which don’t go all-out to be healthy at the cost of flavour – instead, they aim to impress on both counts. They certainly tick the flavour box, being right up there with the tastiest ready meals we’ve tried, and they’re pretty low in calories: everything we ate was under 600 calories and there are many meals that are under 400.
The range of vegan meals isn’t extensive, but there are five options on the website at the time of writing, and they’re nice enough that you’d happily eat each two or three times. In order to avoid the traditional dryness that plagues microwave meals (especially healthier options), The Transformation Chef is pleasingly liberal with the sauces. The only real criticism we have about the meals is they don’t pack in as much veg as we’d like, and they’re sometimes a little on the small side, especially if you live an active lifestyle. Fortunately, both problems are solved by quickly whipping up a side dish of veg.
You can buy individual meals or create a bespoke menu with a nutritionist to suit your health and fitness targets.
Buy from The Transformation Chef | Meals from £5.95
The Best Vegan Recipe Box And Meal Delivery Services Of 2021 is written by jshannon for www.coachmag.co.uk