Updated May 23, 2019 | Food giant Tesco may have 100 candles on its birthday cake, but the chain has remained ahead of the game with market trends. The UK’s biggest supermarket has cornered the UK market in vegan products, offering everything from sandwiches to vegan-friendly haggis.
The rise of meat reducers, flexitarians, and plant-based eaters has seen the vegan food market skyrocket and Tesco has been firmly strapped into the cockpit. Not only has the company developed and launched two plant-based ranges, but it has also been quick to stock popular branded products such as Beyond Meat, Violife, and plant-based Goodfellas’ pizzas.
The winner of PETA’s 2017 Most Vegan Friendly Supermarket Award has come a long way since its founding in 1919.
Its founder, Jack Cohen was born to Polish immigrant parents in East London’s notorious Whitechapel. At the tender age of 21, Cohen launched a group of market stalls which went on to become the Tesco we all know today. Now serving seven countries across Europe and Asia, Tesco is a British institution to be proud of, like Britpop, William Shakespeare, and thickly cut chips.
‘Every Little Helps’ the Environment
The retailer’s mantra “Every Little Helps” applies not only to its competitive pricing but also to its policies on food sustainability, climate action, and zero hunger.
As part of its UN Sustainable Development Goals model, Tesco has highlighted 17 key areas to focus upon as a company. All the highlighted areas are geared towards limiting Tesco’s environmental impact and being a force for change. One way to reduce environmental impact and carbon emissions is to reduce the production and consumption of animal products. With this in mind, Tesco has championed vegan food in recent years.
Tesco is so dedicated to meeting the demands of the modern market, it has even appointed a Director of Plant-Based Innovation in the form of vegan chef, Derek Sarno.
Assisted by his brother Chad, Sarno launched the private label Wicked Kitchen range to coincide with Veganuary 2018. While you won’t find the word vegan on any of the range’s items, the varied line is completely plant-based and is also — as the brothers say on the Wicked Healthy website — “80 percent healthy and 20 percent wicked.”
This gourmet ready meal range stocks everything from vegan enchiladas to sausage rolls to dirty fries topped with BBQ pulled mushrooms, dairy-free cheese, and jalapeños.
As of December 2018, it also offers a sandwich platter which can be delivered straight to your office kitchen as part of Tesco’s new Wicked Kitchen catering service. The Wicked Kitchen range sold a whopping 4 million meals in just 33 weeks following its launch at 600 Tesco stores in January 2018.
Derek told LIVEKINDLY in an email interview that compassionate eating is at the core of its business model, “the main practice behind everything we do is compassion combined with being connected and aware of what we’re eating,” he said.
He added, “we’re pushing plants on the largest scale, focusing on creating foods free from animals and making wicked awesome dishes everyone can enjoy, especially meat-eaters. By making food simple, recognizable, sexy, and friggin delicious, it’s a no-brainer way to make more plant-based choices.”
Another increasingly popular trend is that of the meat-reducer, which according to a survey by More Than Carrots, describes 28 percent of the British population. Many meat-reducers cite minimizing their carbon footprint and reducing deforestation as their main motivation for cutting down animal products, while flexitarians may also be driven by health or animal welfare concerns.
Tesco has recognized that vegan products effectively meet a whole range of different dietary requirements in one fell swoop. As such, it has been a trailblazer for making vegan-friendly foods everyday and accessible. Whether you’re a veritable vegan, full-on flexitarian or just someone who likes to try new foodstuffs, here is a rundown of Tesco’s most popular vegan offerings.
As well as stocking popular brands such as Violife, Tesco launched its own line of dairy-free cheeses in early 2017 as part of its “Free From” range.
Made from the superfood staple, coconut oil, the vegan cheese line proved so successful that Tesco extended the range to an impressive 11 products later that year. To avoid any quibbling over its products being called cheese, Tesco describes each product as a “coconut alternative to..” before naming the particular type of cheese. The range includes products from day to day classics to more artisanal curd
Tesco’s full free from cheese range consists of:
- Mature Cheddar for a daily cheese fix
- Mozzarella which goes especially gooey on pizza
- Jalapeno and Chili Cheddar for a more adventurous sort of sandwich
- Red Leicester which is coloured with paprika
- Smoked Cheese for an authentically Bavarian experience
- Wensleydale with Cranberries for a fruity kick
- Goats Cheese made goaty with special flavorings and oat powder
- Hard Italian Cheese for sprinkling liberally over salads or pasta
- Blue Cheese with added spirulina and safflower for some ripe fromage flavour
- Soft Cheese for spreading on bagels or swirling into soups, if you’re so inclined
- Cheese and Peppercorns including black, white and pink peppercorns for real variety
Continuing the cheese theme, Tesco’s Free From line also includes cheese flavor nachos, a vegan macaroni cheese ready meal, and an instant cheese sauce. Some nights, there just isn’t time to get creative with cashew nuts.
Vegan Meat Options
While Tesco’s more obviously plant-based products, such as its peanut and avocado burger are enjoyed by many customers, there remains a demand for vegan meat. New innovations in plant-based protein are fuelling the market and Tesco is, of course, a part of the vegan meat menagerie with own-brand products and established brands like Quorn and Linda McCartney. The global chain’s vegan meat options include:
- Sausage Rolls which are soy protein wrapped in vegan puff pastry – these are available frozen, or fresh from the bakery section for 75p.
- Soy Mince for perfect moussaka
- Fishless fish cakes made of pea fibre and wheat
- Chicken Style Nuggets made of textured soy protein
- Chicken style pieces for stir fries or stews
- Burgers which are flavored with barley
- Vegan Sweet Potato Falafel
The Beyond Burger
Tesco is currently the only UK supermarket that stocks the Beyond Burger from award-winning California company Beyond Meat.
The “bleeding” burger crafted from pea protein isolate and beetroot extract has changed the face of vegan meat, making it everyday and affordable. This is demonstrated by the fact that, according to Beyond Meat’s founder, Ethan Brown, 93 percent of the people buying the Beyond burger are meat eaters.
Another addition to Tesco’s plethora of plant-based products is Swedish brand, Oumph!
The soy-based items were introduced to 400 branches of the UK’s largest supermarket chain in March 2018 and were selected by Sarno. The brand has proved so popular, it was extended to Irish Tesco stores in January 2019.
Tesco currently stocks the following products from Oumph! Which can all be found in the freezer section.
- Kebab Spiced which is flavoured with fenugreek and cardamom
- The Chunk which is a product best suited to hearty casseroles or deep dish pies
- Pulled, this product is flavored with mustard and BBQ sauce
- Italian Style Pizza, with a base positively straining under all its vegan toppings like soya protein strips and rocket
Tesco first started stocking vegan products from the Dutch company in May 2018 and managed to sell 40,000 of the brand’s plant-based steaks in the first week. Most of Vivera’s organic products are soy based so are very protein rich and like Tesco’s other vegan meat products, are stocked alongside the meat products. The Vivera Range Includes:
- Veggie Steak. This bestseller made to replicate the texture, appearance, and flavor of meat is made of soy and wheat protein and is apparently most enjoyable when pan-fried
- Shwarma Kebab. Consisting of soy protein strips, this product is flavored with fennel seed, turmeric, and cumin for an authentic Middle Eastern flavor
- Veggie Goujons. A seafood alternative with nothing fishy about it, this B12 enriched product is covered in golden breadcrumb
- Veggie Burgers. Flavored with onions and garlic, this is Vivera’s take on the beefy classic
- Smokey BBQ Pulled Veggie. Channeling Southern American flavors, this product has a sweet undertaste offsetting the smokiness
- Veggie Chicken Pieces. Finally, Chicken and Leek pie could be back on the menu. These pieces work well in a variety of dishes and are lightly seasoned with onion
- Veggie Greek Kebab. Whoever said kebabs can’t be healthy obviously didn’t know about Vivera!
- Veggie Mince. The perfect option for creating all the favourites – spaghetti bolognese, lasagne, Chili Sin Carne
One of the oldest vegan meat product brands in the UK, Quorn has begun altering its recipes to make them vegan-friendly. It has also brought out a range of vegan products, spear-headed by its answer the Beyond Meat burger, the Ultimate Burger. Quorn’s most recent vegan product release also included the below:
- Fishless Fingers for a quick weeknight cheat meal, what can beat a fish finger sandwich?
- Battered Salt and Vinegar Fishless Fillets. Fish Fridays are a thing again, thanks to these battered fishless fillets that are a perfect option instead of the normal chip shop order
- Breaded Lemon and Pepper Fishless Fillets. Though both these options are healthier than deep fried chip shop Fish’n’Chips, Quorn’s breaded Fishless Fillets are the healthier of the two options. They pair perfectly with a luscious salad for a wholesome weeknight dinner.
Tesco has made being vegan on-the-go a great deal easier with its extensive range of grabbable plant-based products. As well as its signature falafel wrap which is also included in the daily £3 meal deal, the company also sells a number of quick plant-based lunch options.
The Wicked Kitchen range heads up the lunchtime menu and includes:
- Tex Mex Salad Bowl packed with beans and spices
- Hipstar Salad Bowl full of green goodness
- Rainbow Salad Bowl topped with bombay potatoes and onion bhaji
- Almighty Green Salad with seeds and grains
- Morrocan Inspired Bowl with grains and lots of harissa dressing
- Painted Potato Salad Bowl which also includes charred leeks and corn
- Turmeric Cauliflower and Coconut wrap for an exotic lunch break
- Sweet Potato Pakora Wrap served in a spinach wrap
- Spicy Mexican Wrap for a bit of heat
- Bubble and Squeak Sandwich, this is the only non-wrap bread dish and is filled with cooked chestnuts, cabbage and spinach
- Curried Cauliflower Pasty with lots of turmeric
- Cauliflower and Mushroom Pie made with flaky puff pastry
- All the Rage Rolls with an umami mushroom filling
- Rainbow Market Slaw in a vegan dressing
- Hot Cracked Corn Dip flavoured with coconut
- Toasted Three Onion Dip served with a parsley drizzle
Tesco now also offer a Wicked Kitchen Easy Entertaining Platter. The brand’s website does advise they need two working days’ notice to be able to deliver the platter, which is made up of the Smashin’ Pumpkin Falafel Sandwiches, Turmeric, Cauliflower & Coconut Bites Wraps and Spicy Mexican Style Wraps.
Vegan Ready Meals
As part of its ongoing campaign to make vegan food more accessible, Tesco has developed a varied range of plant-based ready meals. The chain offers its own brand vegetable biryani, chickpea bulgur wheat, and vegan pizza as easy dinner options.
It also offers 11 Wicked Kitchen ready meals. These are:
- Boom’n Butternut Curry for a mild curry treat
- Cauliflower Onion Bhaji Coconut Rice with lots of delicious aromas
- Caponata Pizza for Italian dining
- Big Bros Enchiladas crammed with spicy beans
- Teriyaki Noodles
- Naked Burrito
- BBQ Butternut Mac which is topped with smoky roasted mushrooms
- Nana’s Mushroom Bolognese
- Cauliflower and Mushroom Pie
- Fiery Filthy Wedges topped with mushrooms for extra texture
- Sourdough Margherita Pizza
- BBQ Shreds and Greens
- Spicy Mushroom and Vegetable Pizza
Vegan Milk and Yogurt
Alongside its rather impressive line of vegan cheeses, Tesco’s Free From range also includes numerous other vegan dairy products. The supermarket has its own line of plant milk, which costs 95 pence for a liter of soy, coconut or almond milk. It also carries dairy-free brands such as Oatly, Alpro, and Koko.
It also sells its own soy-based vegan yogurts, which come in plain, blueberry, mango or raspberry and passion fruit, as well as Coconut Collaborative and Alpro yogurt. Not forgetting children who are swaying off cow’s milk, Tesco also sells soy fromage frais in either apricot and banana or strawberry and raspberry flavor. These cute little pots look and taste rather like the lunchbox favorite, Petits Filous.
Tesco’s Free From Desserts
Whether you’re vegan, lactose intolerant or just fancy some plant-based indulgence, Tesco’s Free From chocolate range has a few products to satisfy your sweet tooth.
- Rocky Road Mini Bites which combine chocolate and squidgy vegan marshmallows
- White chocolate, either as a bar or as choccy buttons
- Light chocolate, which also comes in button form
- Giant light chocolate buttons, for when normal sized ones just won’t cut it
- Chocolate Chip Cookies which are also gluten-free
- Ginger Nuts with a nice gingery kick
For slightly fancier desserts and dairy-free ice cream, Tesco also offers:
- Blackcurrant Cheesecakes retailing at £1.75 for two
- Strawberry and rhubarb cheesecakes, made by Gü with coconut cream, retailing at £3.50 for two
- Creme Caramels which are made with coconut milk
- Ice Cream Chocolate Sticks which are rather like vegan magnums
- Toffee and Vanilla cones which are £2.25 for four and extra creamy
- Wicked Kitchen’s Red Velvet Brownie for moist chocolatey indulgence
- Wicked Kitchen’s Pineapple Dream Cake is slightly moussy and has a smokiness from the charred pineapple.
Tesco’s Summer BBQ Range
Just in time for summer, Tesco has released a whole host of BBQ friendly products, many of which are also vegan-friendly. Gone are the days when vegans have to rely on a selection of side dishes and salads to join the barbeque fun. As well as offering customers the Beyond Burger, which arrived in time for BBQ season, the Tesco BBQ Range vegan options include:
- Sweet Potato and Black Bean Burgers an easy way to get kids eating more veggies
- Beetroot Burgers with several of your daily helpings of vegetables included
- BBQ Cauliflower Bites coated in a delicious crispy crumb
- Seasoned Sweet Potato Wedges which are chunky cut and ready to cook
- Potato Salad including spring onions, parsley and chives
With none of the new BBQ options costing more than £2.00, no one can complain about the expense of catering to vegans this summer!
Tesco stocks an extensive selection of wines from many different brands across the world. Its own brand selection does include many vegan options, however, not all of them are clearly labeled, so it’s always worth checking carefully! Thankfully the supermarket announced it would be adding four vegan-friendly wines that are perfect for summer drinking.
The four new options include:
- English White from Hush Heath Winery (11.5% abv)
- 2018 Mosel Riesling (12% abv)
- 2017 Chablis (12% abv)
- 2018 South African Cinsault (13.5% abv)
Bring on summer so we can enjoy these, along with all the vegan BBQ options!