Who knows or cares what an imitation is?
Guest post time again. Josh is super excited about a new range of vegan products that are changing the shape of high street shopping and he really wants you to know.
It’s a vegan revolution – no really!
Tesco supermarkets across the UK are now stocking a range of vegan foods under their own branding. If you had told me 12 months ago that my local supermarket would shortly be stocking their own range of melting cheeses, cream cheeses, yoghurts, creme caramel etc. all labelled as vegan, I wouldn’t have believed you. Are you as amazed as I am? I think it’s revolutionary that a high street supermarket would be pushing an entirely vegan range of milks, cheeses, yoghurts etc. and giving up a whole bay in their dairy aisle to display them.
I think one of the main challenges for people including more plant-based foods in their diet is availability. Of course most vegans are used to shopping around and getting their groceries from a variety of sources (supermarkets, Holland & Barrett, independent stores, online etc.) but I know a lot of people prefer to do one weekly shop at the supermarket, so this could be a real game-changer.
Now down to business… here’s a summary of what’s on the shelf:
Cheese: this comes in two types – ‘Mild’ and ‘Medium’. These are in fact the new melty Sheese products from Bute Island Foods that were premiered at VegFest 2011.
Cream Cheese: this comes in four different flavours. I’ve only tried the Cheddar Style and the Sweet Chilli, both of which are amazing. There is also a Garlic and Herb as well as a Creamy Original.
Margarine: there are two types, Soya and Sunflower.
Jelly: various fruit flavours.
Milks: I haven’t tried any of them yet but there’s plenty of choice: Hazlenut, Almond, Organic Rice, Coconut, Chocolate-Coconut (FGV has enjoyed and approves) and Soya (both sweetened and unsweetened). In addition, there are also mini-cartons of chocolate and vanilla soya milk – at 65ml these are perfectly small enough for taking on a plane so that mid-air milk-less tea/coffee can be a thing of the past!
Yoghurts: large and small containers of yoghurt in plain and various fruit flavours.
Desserts: Chocolate, Vanilla and Creme Caramel (the last of which are truly amazing).
The products were initially available only in 200 selected stores but last month they increased the coverage to include many more. They still haven’t updated their list online so pop into your local store and see whether they have the range and if not, ask them why not!
If your local store doesn’t stock the range then don’t fret; just log on at www.tesco.com/groceries/ and then search for ‘free from’. You may be able to do what I did and just place an order and have it delivered to your door together with your weekly shop… brilliant!
Now while I welcome the increased availability of vegan foods, the cynic in me can’t help but wonder what this means for the future of independent retailers and the ethics of a multi-national company like Tesco monopolising the market. It’s a much bigger issue than can be considered in one single blog post, but it would certainly be a loss if independent retailers suffered as a result of mainstream supermarkets increasing their range. At best, one can hope that Tesco‘s decision to develop this range is in response to an increased demand for dairy-free products and that it will, in turn, influence more people to try plant-based alternatives to inherently cruel dairy products.
The upside in all of this is that some of these products are actually made by independent vegan food companies such as Bute Island (cheeses) and are re-packaged for Tesco. I’m pretty sure the margarines are made by Pure and the yoghurts by Provamel but I could be wrong – anyone know any different?
This is a massive boon for these companies and it makes me feel better that these independent businesses have struck up a (presumably profitable) deal to have their products rebranded, stocked and distributed nationwide.
Now we need to work on the other food aisles in the supermarkets – the monopoly of Marlow Foods – aka Cauldron/Quorn (yes – they are owned by the same company) results in pitiful vegan options in the vegetarian section of most supermarkets and the news that Quorn are working on a vegan product does not exactly have me dancing in the aisle. What would really be fantastic is if Tesco expanded their range of re-packaged vegan items to include products by Redwood and Fry’s.
So yes, it’s a development which leaves me with mixed feelings but whatever your thoughts, vegan food is fast becoming more accessible and appealing to the average person. And that is a good thing.