Veganism and roast dinners. Two food institutions that are highly unlikely to disappear any time soon, with one an irrepressible worldwide movement and one an English Sunday mainstay.
One of the two goes into overdrive come the cold weather, as Christmas-themed retail products laced with festive cheer appear in their droves. With everyone now thinking of succulent roasts in front of roaring fires, what better time to see how well the vegan market translates when paired with the classic main meal?
How does the battle for retail supremacy look in the vegan roast sector? What similarities can we see between products, and who is trying something new?
We start with one of the latest additions to the vegan roast armada – albeit a temporary one. Tesco’s limited-edition Christmas wellington, which is being sold until December 26th, is made with a whole turmeric-spiced cauliflower, accompanied by a mushroom and butternut squash duxelle, all wrapped in golden puff pastry. PETA describes it as a bit of a showstopper, and anything with turmeric still perks up the ears of consumers.
Outside the world of bread, ‘loaf’ is most commonly used these days to describe a veggie and vegan roast. Most vegan roasts come in loaf form, including many products from Artisan Grains, a super health-conscious food brand founded in 2012. Their nut roasts come in three varieties: gluten-free cashew and cranberry, Mediterranean sundried tomato, and country veg and cashew. An all-year option for those after a protein-filled, fibrous feast, they come housed in a sachet and require water before an oven bake.
There can be little argument that this brand is one of the frontrunners of the veggie retail market. Part of the range of delicious options, this vegan-friendly roast is made from rehydrated soya protein and onion, and goes straight in the oven from the pack. It’s described as a “vegetarian beef with red wine and shallot glaze” – yes, we said vegetarian beef. The idea here is clearly to offer something approachable for the meat-free newbies with a product that could deceive the eyes and the palate.
The self-proclaimed ‘famous’ Tofurky boasts textured organic tofu outside and a core of bread crumbs and wild rice inside; plus, it comes with a packet of savoury herb gravy. For those of you who haven’t heard of Tofurky, which is admittedly a Frankenstein’s monster of a name, it was the first US alternative to a turkey roast when it was founded in 1995. Seeing as it’s survived this long, it’s clearly doing something right. The Tofurky roast can be basted and is roasted, providing one of the closest alternatives to roasts in terms of preparation.
Fry’s version is also roasted straight in the oven and is described as a “country style blend of soy and wheat proteins, sunflower oil and quinoa.” Another loaf, Fry’s goes for the win with supergrain quinoa, the protein-rich foodstuff that is still the gold standard.
Swiss-based Vegusto recommends consumers bread its plant-based vegan roast, then cut it into 1cm slices and fry. A wheat protein-based loaf, this one uses 100% natural ingredients and energised water created using “Schauberger technology.” (Viktor Schauberger was a 20th-century engineer known for his holistic approach and deep respect for all things natural. Which clearly makes him the ideal partner for a vegan roast…) Vegusto’s roast incorporates the fewest ingredients on this list.
The cheapest roast on our list is from Morrisons. Described as as a “mini loaf made with sweet potato, pearl barley, spelt, quinoa, pumpkin seeds,” it comes with a sachet of gravy. The use of not just quinoa but also pearl barley particularly distinguishes this one, as the retailer goes big on healthy vegan mainstays.
Another Christmas addition from Tesco, this more traditional – in the vegan sense – nut roast is made from carrots, pecan nuts, peanuts, maple syrup, cranberries and spices, and comes with a mulled wine and cranberry sauce sachet. Devastatingly festive and frozen to boot, this roast utilises both nuts and fruit – and will, of course, be out for a limited time only.