Study shows that more than one in four UK Christmas shoppers plan to incorporate vegan food into their Christmas meals this year.

Forget nut roast or boring old vegetable wellington. From so-called “veganettone” to sticky toffee pudding and even meat-free whole “no turkey” crowns, retailers and food manufacturers are pulling out all the stops to offer a dizzying range of plant-based options for the traditional Christmas spread.

As research reveals that more than one in four Britons plan to eat more vegan food at Christmas this year, supermarkets are reporting strong sales of alternatives to festive staples, with some “limited edition” alternatives to the turkey centrepiece already selling out.

Tesco is tempting taste buds with a record 10 plant-based “centrepieces” – up from six last year – including its new Wicked Kitchen “no turkey roast crown”, which has already sold out online. Derek Sarno, a US chef and self-proclaimed “plant pusher” hired by the supermarket as its “director of plant-based innovation” to overhaul and bolster the entire range, said: “It looks like a turkey, carves like turkey and even tastes like it. It has taken us two years to bring this to market and it’s the first of its kind, and what I believe will be a game-changer for the industry. Made of wheat protein and soy, we also worked with a specialist flavour house to create a natural plant-based turkey flavouring that gives the full experience of the real thing.”

According to research carried out for the Vegan Society, 26{85424e366b324f7465dc80d56c21055464082cc00b76c51558805a981c8fcd63} of Britons plan to eat more plant-based foods this Christmas, continuing the trend of eating less meat during the lockdown. That reflects people paying closer attention to what they eat on health and environmental grounds, with increasing numbers adopting “flexitarian” diets – cutting down on meat and dairy while eating more plant-based foods.

Waitrose says pre-orders of vegan Christmas foods are up by 700{85424e366b324f7465dc80d56c21055464082cc00b76c51558805a981c8fcd63} compared with last year while searches on Waitrose.com for “vegan cheese” increased by 76{85424e366b324f7465dc80d56c21055464082cc00b76c51558805a981c8fcd63} on the same period in 2019. Its Vegan Festive Filo Swirls are proving a popular main dish,. It is also is offering the first supermarket dairy-free vegan fondue. Charlotte McCarthy, vegan buyer at Waitrose said: “We anticipate this Christmas will be the biggest ever for vegan food. We’ve worked really hard to ensure that there is an exciting range available for our customers that is delicious, whether they follow a vegan diet or not.”

The grocery chain Planet Organic has recently expanded its online business to go fully nationwide, with a new website allowing customers to shop by ‘‘lifestyle” – gluten-free, dairy-free, keto, vegetarian and vegan – with the last category enjoying highest online traffic. Shoppers have a choice of nine different Christmas hampers, three of which are specifically branded as a vegan (vegan snack attack, vegan chocolate lover and ultimate vegan) and together account for more than half of all hamper sales. Within its general seasonal range, the overall best-seller is veganettone; vegan panettones made using traditional sourdough starters and leavening techniques but without butter and egg yolks. Montezuma’s dairy-free “Like no udder” chocolate bars are also flying off the shelves.

Al Overton, Planet Organic’s buying director, said: “Countless Christmas vegan items are selling well, including dairy-free chocolate and cheese platters, Christmas cakes and wine; traditional items made to vegan recipes so nobody has to miss out. The seitan roast – an alternative to turkey – has recently sold out, as has the truffle and mushroom faux gras pate, but there will be more available at least a week before Christmas.”

Lakeland said it had sold 65{85424e366b324f7465dc80d56c21055464082cc00b76c51558805a981c8fcd63} more vegan hampers in October than last year as customers shopped earlier, and while now sold out online they are still available in store.

Marks & Spencer is rolling out more than 30 new vegan foods for Christmas under its Plant Kitchen brand in its biggest festive collection to date. Its Plant Kitchen vegan festive wreath – named BBC Good Food’s best vegan main course at this year’s Christmas Taste awards – goes on sale in stores next week; a pastry main course stuffed with roasted mushrooms and chestnuts and topped with a cranberry and orange glaze. M&S said its Plant Kitchen frozen sticky toffee pudding – launched last month – was now selling three times as much as the standard dessert. Its plant-based frozen party food range now accounts for 30{85424e366b324f7465dc80d56c21055464082cc00b76c51558805a981c8fcd63} of its frozen party food sales, with the top-selling line it’s mini “no chicken” kievs.

Original source: https://www.theguardian.com