This has been an exceptional year for vegan produce. As we hit mid-December, we guess there'll be no new launches this side of Christmas, so it's a good time to pick out the best stuff we've reviewed this year. From sausages to cheese, chocolate to ice cream, read on for the Editor's picks of the best vegan products of 2013.
|Photo courtesy of Divina Teresa (serving suggestion)|
Part 2 of our guest review of Spanish firm Divina Teresa's products. This time Blueberries is looking at the Provencal range of chicken style products. Read on for her thoughts on breadcrumbed fake chicken goodness and ketchup!
Not strictly Christmas chocs, but ideal as a stocking filler. This pack of 10 dairy-free chocolate figures is available in the Christmas section at Holland & Barrett and also in independent health food stores. We reviewed Zero Zebra's chocolate bars earlier this year. This box is aimed more squarely at kids.
A bag of faux milk chocolate chunky snowmen from vegan producer Plamil. The company are getting better at presenting their products and this festive foil bag is quite appealing. Inside are small but chunky solid chocolates.
Festive sides / nibbles in the VegiDeli range from VBites (formerly Redwood). We're not quite sure what these are replacing, but they're bite-sized hot nibbles made from soya, with turkey and blue cheese style flavours. Should you feed these to your guests, at your festive drinks party?
Smoked vegan hot dog sausages made from tofu. We're working our way through all the brands of vegan hot dog sausages available in the UK. Taifun's Wieners are one of the longest on the scene, pre-dating Frys, Viana, Vegusto, Plantbasedfoods and maybe even Redwood (VBites). Taifun's smoked tofu won our tofu Taste Test, but does 76% tofu make a good wiener?
Individual slices of vegan Christmas cake, with or without icing. This gluten-free cake is perfect for Christmas although it's available all year round. If you don't want to spend a fortune on a large vegan Christmas cake, or bake and ice your own, this might be perfect. It will also give you something gluten-free to give unexpected guests with allergies.
Impress your party guests with vegan canapés topped with faux caviar. Ikea is not the first place you'd think of for vegan food, but they have occasional gems in their food shop. This 'seaweed topping' sits next to the cod roe on the shelf, but the display label clearly indicates that this is a 'pure vegetarian' alternative to caviar. What do you do with it though?
Why is it we only buy this stuff at Christmas? Maybe because it's only stocked at Christmas. This brand of Turkish Delight is currently on sale at Lakeland, as well as at discount supermarkets. Finding good Turkish Delight that's also vegan is difficult. Does this stuff make the grade?
From Spain comes leading veggie meat company Divina Teresa. The company are considering a UK launch and asked us to review just some of their huge product range. We asked Barcelona-based blogger Blueberries of VeganButNotScary to do the honours for us. She kicks off with the company's 'Atlantic' range of Fingers, Burgers, Wonders and Delights:
NOTE: The star ratings are not working on Internet Explorer 11, so we've put the score in brackets. You should be able to see them fine in Chrome / Firefox / Safari until we fix it.
Fruit and nut snack bar with citrus and chilli. Vegan Tuck Box supplied this bar as part of their sample box of treats, which we reviewed last week. It's a brand we haven't come across before or seen in the shops at all. These bars are not cereal bars as they have no grain ingredients, but they're a similar type of snack bar made from purely fruit and nuts. The texture of this style of bar is often dull, so can the spicy lime flavour perk it up?
It's mid November folks... the Christmas reviews begin. Dark Chocolate Coffee Creams, Orange Creams, Strawberry Creams and Mint Creams from the Pound shop, made by German firm Reutter. These are a pound a box for 150g (18 chocolates)... at that price, they can't be any good..?
Vegan hot dog sausages. Mild smoked wiener/frankfurter style sausages from German firm Viana. We're making sure we've covered all of the vegan hot dog options out there (see below). After reviewing the Irish Plantbasedfoods hot dogs last week we're reviewing these Viana ones which have been on the market for a couple of years.
"Probably the biggest and tastiest chocolate bar in the world"
They do have a point you know:
More from the new Irish brand in the fridge of your local wholefood shop. These products appear to be trickling onto shelves and maybe they'll find themselves a niche. The soya slices range includes mock chicken, ham and these salami style cuts. Could they make a worthy continental breakfast?
New and exciting vegan treats delivered to your door each month. If you're always on the lookout for new vegan products (like we are, of course), then you might be interested in The Vegan Tuckbox. This is a monthly delivery service of 10 new or hard to find vegan treats. The lovely vegan gals at Vegan Tuck Box sent us a free sample box (life's hard for vegan bloggers ain't it...). Read on to see what we made of it:
50 Calorie snack packs of marinated olives. Flavours include Basil & Garlic, Lemon & Rosemary, Chilli & garlic and Chilli and Oregano. The packs we were sent are in flavours that have just been tweaked however, along with the packaging (see below):
More sausages, this time soya hot dog sausages, from Ireland based Plantbasedfoods. After reviewing their Veggie Sausages we found these hot dog franks and thought we'd give them a try too. Traditional Frankfurters and Wieners are pretty much the same thing (they may differ in proportions of which dead flesh they use, depending where you are in the world). For vegans, if they're intended for hot dogs, they're the same thing:
Norfolk Mixed Fruit Cake from the egg-free selection of Riverbank Bakery in Kings Lynn. There are a growing number of vegan bakeries online, but it's still rare to see vegan cakes stocked in shops. We were surprised to learn that the entire cake range of Riverbank Bakery is egg-free (we're checking to see if the whole range is vegan). This one is reassuringly labelled vegan on the pack:
Cornish dark chocolate in Chilli & Lime, Coffee, and Raspberry flavours amongst others. The range is handmade in Cornwall and available at National Trust gift shops and other tourist destinations. We picked up three of the more exciting sounding bars for our review:
More Irish sausages, this time soya based. The company name is a mouthful before you get to the sausages though. We like the sentiment, but it doesn't exactly roll off the tongue. After reviewing Dee's vegan sausages recently, we spotted these very different Irish sausages in a health food store in the UK and thought we'd give the curry flavour ones a try:
Filled dutch waffles with malt syrup or hazelnut syrup centres. The vegan ones of these are made by De Rit or Molenaartje, but be careful to avoid the similar looking ones by Biona which have eggs in. De Rit also make a honey filled version which you'll naturally avoid too. There is clearly no need for eggs or honey as these De Rit waffles are really rather good:
Award-Winning Lincolnshire Plum Loaf from Welbourne's Bakery. Apparently this has been made to the same recipe since 1896... except for changing the lard to vegetable fat for vegans and vegetarians. In honour of the recipe change we thought we'd review the plum bread to see what makes it so special: