The best meal kits for vegetarians and vegans
Eating your fruits and veggies is important for all kinds of reasons. Nutrient-rich dishes piled high with fiber, healthy fats, and plant-based proteins (thanks to meat alternatives like tofu, lentils, beans, and nuts) also can help you meet your daily nutrition requirements.
The draws of certain green menus (namely, vegetarian and vegan) can be appealing for some, especially considering the reported long-term health benefits of reducing the intake of some kinds of meat or animal products. Things can get a little stressful around dinnertime, however.
Whipping up a new and delicious recipe every night can get old pretty quickly, and some of us don't always have the capacity for complex math problems every day: Does this recipe have all of the vitamins and minerals my body needs? What about a protein supplement? Do I need to solve for x on the board to bring out the umami of this vegetable chili dish? We can't all be as resourceful as Tabitha Brown, after all.
Veganism (and the plant-based foods market in general) has grown in popularity over the last 5 to 10 years. Millennials got the ball rolling by leaning into the concept of buying whole foods over the last decade, and Gen Z has largely followed suit as the retail market for plant-based food items topped $7 billion this year alone.
"Look for a [meal kit] provider who offers high-fiber carbohydrates such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains, rather than pasta, potato, or white rice dishes," says Jennifer May, the principle nutritionist and director of Sydney City Nutritionist and Food Intolerance of Australia.
Knowing what you're looking for, as opposed to just looking for 'vegan' or 'vegetarian' tags on certain recipes, will make it easier to compare meal kits.
Top 5 meal delivery kits for a vegan or vegetarian diet
These days, there are plenty of meal kit delivery services that can help simplify all of this for vegans and vegetarians alike. Whether you just made the switch to a fully plant-based diet or you've been a pro for some time now, there's a number of reasons to check out what these vegetarian and vegan-friendly meal kits have to offer.
"By including extra fruit and vegetables in your meals [with meal kits], you are increasing the vitamin and mineral content as well as providing added health benefits," says dietician Reda Elmardi.
These benefits can include lowered risk of health issues like high blood pressure or digestive issues, as well as improved heart health thanks to important antioxidants. Elmardi offers fitness and nutrition advice through his website, activbuilt.com.
Improve the number of fruits and vegetables you eat with our choice of the best meal kits for a vegan or vegetarian diet:
- Best plant-based meal delivery service: Purple Carrot
- Best for vegetarians who love to cook: Blue Apron
- Best for organic fruits and vegetables: Daily Harvest
- Best for ready-to-go frozen meals: Mosaic Foods
- Best for a flexitarian diet: SunBasket
The best meal-delivery service offers a flexible plan that meets your dietary needs with enough variety and perks to keep you happily subscribed. The services outlined below all provide nutritious and varied meals that are perfect for any plant-based diet.
Best plant-based meal delivery service: Purple Carrot
Purple Carrot is one of the few entirely plant-based meal kit services serving customers nationwide. It focus on delicious and nutritious dinners using all organic ingredients.
You get not only a whole company's catalogue of plant-based recipes to choose from, but also very interesting meals. Menu options like a Curry Roasted Cauliflower Bowls boast cook times as low as 30 minutes – perfect for those nights where you have just enough time (or energy) for something quick and easy.
Another great feature of Purple Carrot is the option to customize your own box. If you don't have a preference when it comes to meal kits vs. fully prepared meals (or want a mix of both), simply put together your own box for a string of meals that will last.
With an entire menu that's vegan-friendly and tabs for breakfast and lunch recipes in addition to dinner options, Purple Carrot is a great choice for anyone sticking to a plant-based diet. Choose between two and four servings per meal to set up the perfect plan for your dietary needs.
Purple Carrot prices start at $11 per serving
Best for vegetarians who love to cook: Blue Apron
With a reputation for quality ingredients and easy-to-follow yet rewarding recipes, Blue Apron makes the cut with a number of nutritionist-approved recipes catered to vegetarian diets. They offer meals made with whole fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds, and more.
And you can easily make substitutions on some meals to get even more options. Vegans can exclude dairy, honey, and eggs from certain dishes using a handy point-and-click online menu customization system. Or just look for the small green leaf symbol on recipes to find their vegetarian recipes.
Blue Apron is the way to go if you like a light challenge in the kitchen. The company's chef-approved recipes are great for beginner cooks, and those who don't mind a bit of elbow grease mixed in (metaphorically, of course) with their Curry Paneer Kathi Rolls or Oven-Baked Cheesy Tomato Gnocchi.
If meal kits aren't really your thing, Blue Apron also offers fully prepared meals through a Heat & Eat services. This relatively new line of recipes serves up chef-made dishes that are ready to go in minutes. These can be added on to any Blue Apron meal plan.
Blue Apron prices start at $8 per serving
Best for organic fruits and vegetables: Daily Harvest
If you want the best selection of premade soups, grain bowls, and vegan smoothies, look no further than Daily Harvest. Its eclectic menu offers a variety of plant-based, dairy-free, and gluten-free meals (and snacks and smoothies) for breakfast, lunch, and even dinner.
Daily Harvest is ideal for a light yet filling vegan breakfast or lunch (or brunch if that's how you roll). You can even try out their ready-to-blend smoothies, flatbreads, oat bowls, and more with a one-time box before making the commitment to weekly deliveries.
With tasty listings like the tart Dragon Fruit and Lychee and refreshing Mint and Cacao smoothies, it's easy to see why Daily Harvest is the best choice for vegan-friendly products made of whole fruits and vegetables.
Daily Harvest's commitment to eco-friendly ingredients and materials is another draw for anyone with an exclusively vegan diet. In addition to organic and ethically sourced ingredients, Daily Harvest ships everything in easily recycled packaging.
Daily Harvest prices start at $6 per item
Best for ready-to-go frozen meals: Mosaic Foods
Another popular meal delivery service for vegan and vegetarian options is Mosaic Foods. If you want variety, you've got it: Think more than 50 premade meals each week to most major metro areas across the US.
Mosaic Foods offers a huge selection of plant-based and globally inspired dishes, but it's also one of the cheapest meal delivery services for meatless meals. Nutritious veggie bowls start at $9... and some oat bowl recipes go as low as $5 apiece.
Mosaic Foods' frozen meals are just as delicious after being stored in the freezer as they are when the box lands on your step, so you can strike food waste from your list of worries once you sign up. Add up to 18 items to each order and stock up on as many delicious soups, veggie bowls, pizzas, and family meals as you'd like!
As an added bonus, all of the food trays included in each order are fully recyclable. No artificial ingredients, preservatives, or environmentally unfriendly packaging items? Exactly. Talk about the perfect combo for eco-conscious consumers who live the vegan lifestyle.
Mosaic Foods prices start at $5 per item
Best for a flexitarian diet: SunBasket
All of the meal kit services discussed so far have been excellent choices for full-time vegans and vegetarians, but what about the casual or intermittent eater who likes a mostly plant-based diet? For the flexitarian crowd that sticks to a semi-vegetarian diet (think: no meat on weekdays), SunBasket stands out as a great balanced service.
Weekly plant-based options are fewer than what other meal kit companies offer (there are typically three or four vegan recipes to choose from), but every recipe is made of high-quality ingredients.
Whether you go for the vegan Mediterranean Flatbreads with Beet Salad and Skordalia Lima Bean Dip, the carb-conscious Grilled Chicken and Vegetables with Triple Cheese Sauce, or both and then some, you won't be disappointed by SunBasket's easy and convenient meals.
Unlike other companies, SunBasket also lets customers select from a list of grocery add-ons to any order. Whether you want to pick up an extra snack or restock your fridge with fresh poultry, beef, chicken, or fish, SunBasket gives you the perfect opportunity to do so each week.
SunBasket prices start at $12 per serving
How to choose the best meal delivery kit for your diet
Start by using the same approach you'd use when eating out at a new restaurant. Review the menu selections to see what catches your eye: Are there a number of plant-based dishes that look good to you, or just one or two? Are there special labels for meatless, non-dairy, or other restrictions on certain foods? Is it easy to substitute certain ingredients for vegan options?
Many services have specific plans that cater to vegetarian, vegan, and other special diets. This kind of dedicated variety means a meal kit service is more likely to last beyond the first week or two, where customers may grow tired of a lack of variety and jump ship for better options.
A few other important things to consider include:
- Nutrient breakdowns: Whole foods and ingredients are key to a healthy and filling plant-based meal. Just as you should ask your server about things like whether a dish is dairy-free or vegan-friendly, you should check recipes listed online when comparing meal kits. Look for adequate amounts of fiber, healthy fats, and protein in every dish.
- Recipe alterations and add-ons: One sign of a good meal delivery service is easy customization. Keep an eye out for services that offer meatless alternatives – the more room for personal preference, the greater the meal variety!
- Portion size: Some meal kit companies might be stretching the definition of "single serve" with the meals they ship out each week. Double check the recipe descriptions and opportunities to add on other items as sides or extras. Depending on your preference, you might want to use ingredients lying around at home to "beef up" (no pun intended) certain meals, or – like the case with Daily Harvest's tasty snacks and smoothies – add additional items to really get the most out of your delivery.
How we ranked the best meal kits for a plant-based diet
Popular meal delivery services like HelloFresh or Blue Apron draw in customers with flexible plans that can fit most (if not all) dietary restrictions. But be on the lookout for lesser known or newer services vying for the top spot for consumers on plant-based diets.
To compare the best of these, we took a look at how each company approached special diet plans, and how their meals are prepared and packaged. The great thing about many vegan and vegetarian dishes is that there's no one right way to enjoy them: You can order fresh ingredients to cook at home, opt for premade or already frozen meals to eat at your own pace, or save certain recipes in the freezer to be eaten throughout the week.
Other criteria we used to compare the best meal delivery services for certain plant-based diets are:
- Meal variety: Coming up with new and exciting recipes at home gets old really quickly, and there's only so many vegan burgers, vegetable wraps, and vegan soups before ordering out grows stale. That's why we chose meal kits that offer a good mix of plant-based options each week instead of one or two recipes.
- Freshness factor: When you're at the grocery store, sticking to a vegan or vegetarian diet means paying extra attention to the quality of organic ingredients. So we did the same: Every meal delivery service on this list was chosen because its ingredients are packaged to last in cool, dry, and recyclable packaging.
- Fridge- or freezer-ready ingredients: Many vegetarian dishes can be stored safely away in the freezer, making them great for meal prepping. Some meal kits come fresh and ready for the stovetop, while others are prebuilt and frozen for later use; we take a look at both methods below.
- Time to cook: A home-cooked meal will eat into your free time no matter what you're making, but some plant-based and vegan alternative recipes can really run up the clock with their complexity. That makes the streamlined cooking process of certain meal kits (complex and simple recipes alike) the perfect way to expand your palate and try new plant-based meals.
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Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between a vegan diet and vegetarian diet?
While both are primarily plant-based diets, veganism and vegetarianism are not the same. A vegetarian diet is one without meat, poultry, fish, or seafood. A vegan diet shares these restrictions, but also excludes dairy, eggs – all meat and animal products and byproducts.
Are frozen vegetarian meal kits better than do-it-yourself recipes?
Most meal prep kits that come premade are macronutrient-oriented, which means they were designed to pack a nutritious punch when thawed and eaten at a later date. Meal kits that leave the cooking up to you are still healthy, but typically fall short in the category of dense nutrients (something especially important for plant-based meals).
Which meal delivery service is the cheapest for a vegan diet?
While costs per meal delivery service vary depending on a number of factors, Mosaic Foods is one of the cheapest options out there with family meals starting at $5 per serving. Daily Harvest is another top contender with low starting prices for meals and items such as smoothies.
Does HelloFresh have vegan-friendly meal plans?
While not quite as robust as other meal kits listed above, HelloFresh does have a great collection of vegan and plant-based recipes. Its Veggie meal plan offers plenty of recipe ideas to customers.
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