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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.

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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.

Vegan dairy case at Tesco

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).

Melty cheese

Cream cheese spread

Vegan creme caramel

Cherry soya yoghurt

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.

Chocolate coconut milk

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.

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Written by fatgayvegan

14 Comments
  1. The yoghurts and deserts are made by Sojade

    • Oh cool – thanks. They’re another independent vegan company as far as I can tell so that’s good to know.

  2. The mini cartons aren’t really milk, they’re desserts, with the consistency and taste of vanilla or chocolate custard. Brilliant for lunch boxes 🙂

  3. wow. makes me want to plan another trip to england soon!

  4. Amazing I know! To be honest, it not that I never expected a supermarket to do something like this, I just didn’t expect it to be Tesco!!! Nevertheless, good for them because they have certainly raised my opinion of them, as well as increasing the amount I spend at their stores each week. But most of all, they’ve won over my loyalty from Sainsburys (well it’s more a level playing field now) 🙂

    Also the coconut milk is made by Kara! Fairly obviously, but just thought I’d add.

  5. as much as it distresses me that Tesco’s march to world domination continues, I’ve got to say the cheese is the best I’ve tried. I’ve tried most brands, but found that they pretty much all taste like arse. This was much better, with a texture more closely resembling cheese than any of the others. I still like Sainsbury’s for their well priced and labelled wine, and co-op for all my toiletries. (And Asda for everything else cos its cheap) But for cheese, looks like I’ll be making a trip to tesco more often. Not sure how much my waistline will approve of this development, but as a fellow FGV, what the hell !

    • The cheese is really rather good.

      I have heard rumours that Sainsbury’s are also developing a free-from dairy range!!

      • Have taken Sainbury’s to task as they have stopped using their Vegan wording on their formally vegan products, their Own Brand Bombay Potato for example. They now just use a green V which doesn’t distinguise between veggie or Vegan. After three emails in which they said initally they hadn’t made any chnages then claimed it wasn’t them who changed the packaging on their own brand products!! the solution they came up with was ” just ask a member of staff and they will happily tell you if a product is vegan”. I didn’t have the strength to carry on in the face of this level of stupidity. So I wonder if the dairy free range will say anything on it or whether only the staff will know!

  6. I think is a good way to get people near to vegan food but as you said I’m not sure if it’s really a good thing for the small specialized retailer, I personaly dislike Tesco and I truly believe in a better world without supermarkets, I don’t think we need to be overcrowded by foods of any sort, but anyway that could be either a revolution or could be the starting point for this company to loose their trust. Everybody knows that when you start to produce in a very large scale you have to cut down the quality in order to produce more, so that could be a degeneration of vegan food that is well know for cruel free but should be also know for healthier as you truly don’t wanna harm any animals but why should you harm yourself or the planet?

    Beatrice (ariadibattersea.wordpress.com)

  7. Much as we dislike the dominance of Tesco I can’t help but be delighted and I’m looking forward to trying. We live in a village & their huge Extra store is our only local grocery store, a 15 min walk from home. We do have health food stores in town but this shouts progress to me. Hoping where they lead others will follow : ) I agree it would be great to have Redwood & Frys too. We have only limited ranges of these available in town.

    • I feel the same Amanda. It’s a balancing act between wanting small businesses to survive but at the same time wanting wide-scale availability of vegan products… both for personal access to them but also so that the public at-large is exposed to these products and is therefore encouraged to make more compassionate choices when doing their weekly shop!

      As I said in the blog, it would be great to see the dominance of Quorn/Cauldron brought down and Fry’s and Redwood products available in supermarkets. Watch this space as I believe FatGayVegan has a campaign up his sleeves to get Fry’s products into a leading supermarket!!

      • I agree the cheese is disgusting! Mine went in the bin too after it ruined a whole family meal!

  8. tried it all and sad to say didn’t like any of it particularly. the creme brulee was watery the milk somewhat odd the jelly also odd passion yoghurt was very fatty and the cheese so utterly disgusting it went in the bin, and I never never e
    ver waste food. vastly disapointed and I feel this range will disapear as most vegans will just not buy it as we know there are much better products out there. I would advise people not to buy it, especially as its by no means cheap. they were also selling Delamere Vegan Soya shakes beside the new range in my Tesco which is basically vannila soya milk in a carton that becomes a shake when you shake it! it cost £1.19 for 230ml as oppossed to £1.20 for a litre of vannila soya milk which is the same thing and you can shake that too!

  9. […] have added a load of vegan products to their ‘Free From’ range. I first read about them on the Fat Gay Vegan blog, then forgot about them, until I passed them in my local Tesco the other day. My Tesco doesn’t […]

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