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  • Writer's pictureClare

New to the shelves for Veganuary

As the first instalment for our 'What's new Wednesday', we look back on the new products we tried and tested for Veganuary. It's going to be interesting to see which ones stick around and which ones get phased out. Especially as this year Veganuary failed to hit it's growth projections based on previous years and a lot of the producers are putting investment into new product development.

What vegan fare and plant based diet uptake is going to look like in less exceptional circumstances (looking at you Covid...!) is hard to say but our thoughts are as follows...

Too many chick peas!

The current offering of over processed plant based meat formed alternatives (nuggets, sausages and burgers) offer easy access to the market for meat eaters but we don't think it is sustainable as part of a vegetarian diet, or even a flexitarian diet as it all gets a bit stodgy and there are only so many lumps of processed beans you can get creative with!

Over or under seasoned

We found lots of the more processed stuff has gone heavy on flavour, be it spices, pepper or salt. While this made them tastier, it also made it hard to incorporate them into any recipes.

Not as healthy as you are led to believe

Call us naïve but we hoped being a bit more plant based this month would be good for us and It's been a shock how much fat and salt some of the alternatives contain, particularly some of the processed meals...and the desserts!

Some great products we will stick with and we hope stick around

  • Coconut Collaborative choc pots are staying on the shopping list!

  • Aldi Plant Menu no steak bakes - fantastic lunch option on a cold day and you don't miss the meat

  • Heck meat free sausages - not a favoured replacement for the standard Heck sausages, but a suitable alternative if you want to slip in some meat free meals and passed the kid test with under 7's.

  • The Vegetarian Butcher 'What the Cluck' bought for the packaging and will buy again for the taste

  • Avocado chocolate mousse - recipe on the Tesco food website! Delicious!

  • Vegan Jerky, really strong flavour but also very moreish. Also has significantly fewer chemical additives than traditional jerky.

Some great ideas that need work

The options we tried for mince were a bit off putting - the look, mouth feel and texture weren't good enough for a product that is directly replacing meat in our opinion.

Plant bacon....if there is one thing you could do to tempt a veggie it's fry some bacon. Plant-based can have all of the rest, but please don't mess with bacon.

The 'umami' taste is lacking in the products that are trying to replicate meat like chunks, chops or mince that are direct replacements for meat within a recipe. This is possibly why the more processed options are so strongly seasoned, but it's just not cutting the mustard in our opinion...excuse the pun.

Final Thoughts

The products that performed best are those ready meals and pre-prepared meals. We think this is because they have been properly developed with some excellent flavour combos. The meat replacement products like sausages, bacon, chicken pieces etc don't have the consumer knowledge of how to make the best of the product to support them in the kitchen. They don't behave in the same way as meat or taste the same so the normal recipes you would use with the meat version of the product just aren't working, its a soggy mulched mess at the end of cooking and you really should just stick with some mushrooms to bulk out the casserole or stew instead.

The meat free alternatives might not quite be on the mark with the product, but what they have got right is the marketing, the branding and the packaging. All the things that the meat industry is struggling with.

Our research shows that people are not as swayed towards plant based as the press leads you to believe and meat is going to remain a permanent fixture in the fridge, but it's time to up the game! The first step is to understand your consumer, and why it is they are looking to replace meat....oh, we have some research on that too...!

Want to talk to us about what we tried or speak to us about our research in this area then you know where we are!

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