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Tuesday, August 3, 2021

The vegan supermarkets giving UK plant-based shoppers peace of mind

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Seasoned and new vegans alike can put the days of laborious label checking at the Big Four behind them, thanks to folks behind vegan supermarkets in the UK.

For many of us, it seemed like a far-off dream, but there really are a number of vegan supermarkets now open. No longer do we need to trawl through reams of ingredients, only to find milk powder hiding on the last line. Never again will gelatin sneak into a beloved snack. And buttermilk? We don’t need to stress about that either, because vegan supermarkets are here, helping us to make easier choices and taking all the hard work out of the weekly shop.

Whether you prefer to shop online or in person, here is a selection of the best conscious grocery stores in the UK, catering to vegan and, in most cases, gluten-free diets.

TheVeganKind Supermarket

 

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Founded in 2013, this online-only outlet gives instant access to more than 5,000 vegan and cruelty-free products, spanning the full plant-based lifestyle. From sweet treats to household cleaning and even presents for your pets, you can find it all here, without ever having to leave your sofa.

Shipping is fast and free, subject to a minimum spend, and there is a loyalty points system in place, making it comparable to major high street UK supermarkets that let you accrue redeemable points with every spend. You even get a voucher on your birthday when you sign up for an account.

You get to support a family business when you shop with TheVeganKind Supermarket and you’ll discover new vegan cheese brands, dairy-free ice cream flavours and vegan wine that you’d never find at the Big Four.

The Big Four have upped their games in terms of vegan ready meals, but is that enough to secure loyal shoppers?

GreenBay

 

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On a mission to make plant-based the new normal, GreenBay is another online operation that seeks to bring exciting and tasty products to every household in the UK, via next-day carbon neutral deliveries.

Founded in 2015, GreenBay has grown quickly from a small startup in London to a comprehensive online platform for the plant-based, vegan-curious or simply gastronomically adventurous.

For anyone that prefers to shop in person, the Hammersmith GreenBay vegan supermarket in London is a well-stocked alternative to ordering online, with team members on hand to offer advice, recommendations and explanations.

Vegan Store

 

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Vegan Store is something of an innovator, being the first online retailer of solely vegan products, dating back to 2000. It has also always taken a global approach to spreading the joy of great tasting plant-based food, with treats from the UK, Australia, America and even the Far East always on offer.

Considered by many to be the original and best, Vegan Store consistently audits the products being sold in a bid to retain its loyal customer base and acknowledges that although shopping small and locally is important, veganism is a worldwide phenomenon. This is why, along with numerous independent UK brands, customers can find exotic offerings from further afield on the website.

A favourite vegan supermarket in the UK, it offers free delivery over £50, no minimum order value and next day services for when patience is in short supply.

Of course, there are numerous small and independent vegan supplies outlets throughout the UK as well, giving plant-based shoppers unfettered access to the latest and greatest products, but most likely from smaller brands. That brings us to an interesting question: is it better to shop at the Big Four to take advantage of big brand releases and offers, or should we be supporting smaller operations?

The future of vegan supermarkets in the UK

Until veganism is so mainstream that there are enormous plant-based-only shops in every major city in the UK, we have to be realistic about things such as household budgets and picky eaters. In a flexitarian family, for example, it can be easier to choose vegan products from a big brand that also manufactures meat products, in order to make the transition easier for fussy kids or those reluctant to say goodbye to their favourite sausages and burgers. These brands usually try to at least mirror the cost of their ‘regular’ items as well, making them a simpler swap during the weekly shop.

Supporting a specifically vegan supermarket in the UK is still fairly niche and can come with added costs, including delivery, though many are trying to offset this with free shipping, loyalty schemes and offer codes. At the end of the day, the issue is moot, because unless we demand more vegan supermarkets, the prices won’t come down, things won’t get more mainstream and we won’t have any option but to shop at the Big Four anyway.

Takeaway deliveries are getting a vegan makeover as well, for when the big shop can wait until tomorrow.

Amy Buxton
Amy is a committed ethical vegan, raising a next generation compassionate human with her husband and their beloved dog, Boo. A freelance writer with a background in PR, she decided to use the COVID lockdown period to refocus her client base and has come to The Vegan Review as a senior writer and editor, before moving into her external content director role. "What we should be doing is working at the job of life itself" is Amy's mantra, courtesy of Tom from The Good Life.