MAKE IT VEGAN
Amy Sedghi on subscription boxes for plant-based goodies
Whether you dipped a toe into the plant-based world during Veganuary or are a dedicated vegan, the offerings for a meat- and dairy-free diet are getting better and better by the minute. Subscription boxes are one way to delve in and indulge in the mixture of vegan products available – plus, the delightful thing is they’re delivered straight to your door.
From ready meals and brownies to gardening delights and bath bombs, there’s a subscription box to suit everyone’s needs. For vegans, though, subscription boxes can be a great path to discovery, with many small businesses and independent brands being given the chance to shine. It’s not just the contents that vary, though – the boom in popularity means there’s a range of subscription models on offer, from weekly and monthly deliveries to more personalised options.
For our round-up, we looked at a wide range of recurring delivery options that offer a box (or similar) with a range of curated goodies inside. From the recurring top-ups to the boxes worth sending as presents, we’ve got you covered.
How we tested
We had the joy of ordering a load of subscription boxes – all vegan, of course – and making our way through the contents. As well as looking at what was in the boxes and assessing the quality, we looked at value for money and how eco-friendly the packaging was. We also took into consideration the brand’s curation of products and how well they’d nailed offering a mix of vegan products you’d be excited to discover.
Sometimes nothing but a sweet treat will suffice. Sure, most shops have aisles packed full of the stuff, but finding a vegan alternative can be a bit tricky, expensive or both. Luckily, Vegan Town offers just the subscription box you need to alleviate those cravings. What we loved was the effort the brand has put in to offer a mix of well-thought-out sweets, chocolates and biscuits that you wouldn’t normally find on supermarket shelves. Take, for example, the sumptuous Vegaluscious almond and maple soft nougat – which is a decadent discovery we’d go back for again – but hadn’t yet come across in our local shops or delis.
Our rough calculation of the box’s contents puts it somewhere near the £24 mark, so you’re getting your money’s worth while discovering new items. We loved the “surprise” element of the treat boxes and were pleased with the range in ours, which varied from sophisticated vegan chocolate bars to twists on childhood favourites, such as Ananda’s queen jaffa round-up (think Wagon Wheel mixed with a Jaffa Cake). Other highlights included the Love Raw nutty choc balls (which are free from palm oil) and a choco cookie chocolate bar (made of Fairtrade cocoa – plus it was housed in plastic-free packaging and homecompostable foil).
There were seven items in the box, which might not sound like a huge amount but they did keep us going for a good few weeks. You can opt for a one-time purchase, or save 5 per cent when signing up to either a pre-paid three-month or regular monthly £20 subscription.
Lush Kitchen subscription box: £35, Lush
Lush hardly needs an introduction. Fun, colourful and always with a scent that’ll fill a room, the brand is the place to go for cruelty-free bath and beauty goodies. Fans of Lush will love the Lush Kitchen subscription box – a monthly doorstep delivery of exclusive vegan cosmetics. Some are personalised according to the customer’s vote, while others are a pure surprise.
In our box, there was perfume, shower gel, bath bomb, bath melt, candle and an enamel badge. We liked how fun the cosmetics were, such as the red and gold glitter-speckled shower gel. Subscribers can get their hands on products that are not available otherwise, which makes this service feel special and exciting. Any Lush fan is sure to love this box of beautifully presented goodies arriving on their doorstep.
Dovebrook frozen meals: £25, Dovebrook
Cotswolds-based Dovebrook is a fab company to know. Not only does it offer a great range of dishes, but it is also hugely focused on reducing its environmental impact. Its packaging is biodegradable and home compostable, it uses 100 per cent renewable energy in its kitchen, and delivery boxes and insulation are recyclable or can be returned. Also, the aptly named “surplus vegetable tagine” makes use of excess veg, in a bid to reduce food waste.
We sampled a fabulous range of dishes, from a fragrant Persian dried lime and herb stew (a Great Taste award winner) to a tasty tamarind jackfruit curry. The ginger and miso sticky toffee pudding went down a treat too. While customers can individually select the meals and portion sizes they’d like, there are also some great pre-decided bundles on offer with prices starting at £25; the new parents’ bundle (£65 Dovebrook) is a clever idea and makes for a thoughtful gift.
If getting dressed up to go out is too much bother and you’d rather dine on a restaurant-level meal in the comfort of your own home, then rejoice, for Matsudai Ramen delivers just that, and it is simply delicious.
Our kits (we tried the vegan sunset red ramen and the vegan “tonkotsu”) arrived neatly packaged, each in a branded pouch containing all the constituent parts of the dish (mostly in compostable bags). Putting it all together was pretty simple and the result was restaurant-quality, as promised. Plus, the portions are very generous. Packed full of flavour, a steaming bowl of this rich ramen is just the ticket during colder months.
A pay-as-you-go, 12-month subscription for two kits per month, including delivery, starts at £27.47 per month, while a prepaid 12-month subscription starts at £25.71 per month. There are also three-month and six-month subscriptions. As tasty as it is, it’s quite a pricey option, so we’d opt for these as a gift or a special treat.
Lifebox subscription box: £23.95, Lifebox Food
This monthly subscription box was stacked with goodies (we counted 13 in ours but it can be up to 15 items). Arriving as quite a weighty box with a stash of health-focused items crammed inside, we were pleased with the real mix of products included, from ready-to-eat snacks to condiments and tea bags. Highlights from our box included delicious vegan chocolate orange cookies and a full-size bar of Tony’s vegan almond and sea salt bar.
As you’d expect, every month’s contents are different – we tried the November and December editions and loved that they were curated to suit the mood of each month (think cold-busting ginger shots and a very handy vitamin D3 oral spray for November, and tons of festive treats for the December box). They also come complete with a booklet of recipe suggestions.
At £23.95 per month, the box is pricier than other vegan snack options we tried, but it is a great choice for those who are especially health conscious or lead an active lifestyle, as boxes seem to regularly contain protein balls, bars high in fibre and dried-fruit-based snacks.
Cake or Death vegan brownies: £18, Cake or Death
These brownies in a box, from Exeter-based vegan bakery Cake or Death are delicious, first and foremost. They’re moist and gooey on the inside, but with that gorgeously perfected crisp topping that sets a great brownie apart, in our opinion. They have a great mix of flavours to choose from, and they come beautifully presented in a pink leopard-print recyclable box.
If you’re more restrained than us, the brownies keep for up to 14 days from their baked date, if kept in an airtight box in the fridge. But honestly, our tip would be to just get stuck in. Our tasty box of six brownies included flavours such as sea salt chocolate, Lotus Biscoff chocolate, Oreo chocolate, Nutella hazelnut and “brookie” (sea salt chocolate and peanut butter). There are around 12 different variations to try, though, including coffee bourbon, chocolate orange and rocky road, so you could have some fun mixing up the contents each month or opt for their “surprise” box.