With veganism becoming an increasingly popular lifestyle choice – Veganuary, a month for trying out a plant-based diet, grew by 183% last year with over 168,000 people taking part in the UK – M&S is rising to meet the demand. With some ready to take the plunge completely and some wanting to just dip their toe (one in three of us buy dairy-free milk, while one in five cook flexitarian meals), the new range lets customers choose how much they incorporate veganism into their diet.
Plant Kitchen is a collection of 60 vegan-friendly products starting at just £2. “This is the year we'll truly see plant-based food go mainstream,” April Preston, Director of Product Development at M&S, said. “With 60% of customers eating less red meat and adopting a flexitarian approach, we're thrilled we've created a range which tastes as good as you'd expect from M&S, but is also vegan-friendly, so finally people don't have to compromise on taste.”
The range includes the no beef burger, which is said to have a texture similar to medium-rare beef, cauliflower popcorn with buffalo sauce, BBQ pulled jackfruit pizza, creamy cashew mac’n’cheese and mushroom stroganoff – perfect for winter evenings.
The collection was created and developed by a number of expert chefs and Claire Richardson, the brand’s Senior Product Developer. “Some people think meat-free food is dull but this couldn't be further from the truth, it’s experimental and it's delicious,” she said. “We've created a collection that will appeal to everyone – whether you're a longstanding vegan, want to lead a more flexitarian lifestyle, or you love meat… My favourite is the teriyaki tofu and rice which is delicious and I love the kick of chilli.”
When it comes to snacks, its rainbow sushi wrap (filled with exotic mooli, pickled cabbage, sweet potato and avocado with a ginger and chilli dressing) is set to be a favourite, as is the sweet potato biryani wrap, a blend of sweet potato, basmati rice and buckwheat with charred red pepper and a fresh ‘kachumber’ salad of tomato, cucumber and red onion, topped with spicy mango chutney and mint dressing.
And M&S isn’t the only one jumping on the vegan bandwagon – Sainsbury’s has reported seeing an 82% increase in customers searching for vegan products and is launching 29 new plant-based products in January, including smoky jackfruit quarter pounders and vegan chorizo-style shroomdogs.
Similarly, Waitrose has launched its own-brand fishless fingers, made from breaded seaweed tofu with a crispy coating, as well as other main dishes including beetroot risotto made with spelt and pearl barley and stonebaked barbecue jackfruit pizza. Iceland will also be expanding its freezer range to include a no cheese houmous pizza and no cheese Italian garden pizza. And for dessert? Tesco has doubled its plant-based Wicked Kitchen range for January to include delicious desserts like red velvet brownies and pineapple cheesecake. So if you fancy giving veganism a go, there’s never been a better time to try it.