The 7 best plant-based products 'Veganuary' brought us this year

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Traditionally, January has always been a month of penitential new year’s resolutions fueled by non-alcoholic beverages and a pervading sense of gloom.

However, since 2014, the first month of the year has also become the time of “Veganuary”, an initiative promoted by a UK charity to challenge people to try out veganism for 31 days.

Just over a five-year timespan, Veganuary grew into a prominent movement with hundreds of thousands of enthusiastic participants all over the world. In 2019 alone, it’s estimated that around 250,000 people joined the initiative.

Veganuary signups 2014-2018

Plant-based food companies and supermarket chains quickly smelled Veganuary’s commercial potential and, over the past couple of years, they started rolling out new vegan products during this month.  The upshot is that January turned into a month studded with amazing plant-based novelties. And this year’s edition was no exception.

As Veganuary 2019 winds up, I made a list of 7 best vegan products that hit supermarkets and restaurants over the past month.  

1) Greggs Sausage Roll

Greggs — the largest bakery chain in the United Kingdom —introduced a vegan quorn sausage roll in roughly half its stores at the beginning of January. Due to skyrocketing demand, they then decided to distribute the roll in all 1800 of its joints.

The vegan roll’s launch enjoyed massive media attention to the extent that industry magazine PR Week described it as “a master class in public relations”.

2) Aldi Vegan Burgers

Plant-based meat is too often painfully expensive. That’s why the decision of discount retailer Aldi to substantially expand its plant-based range is great news for all vegans on a budget.

In January, Aldi added to its UK shelves The Meat Free Butcher Quarter Pounders. The patties, which are made from soya protein, cost a competitive £2.50 for a pack of two.

3) Sainsbury’s 29 New Plant-Based Products

UK supermarket Sainsbury’s embraced Veganuary too, launching 29 new plant-based products that include chorizo-style Shroomdogs, seitan bacon, and meatless Szechuan “beef”.

Moreover, Sainsbury’s announced yesterday that it will begin merchandising some of its plant-based meat alternatives next to its meat counters.

“Through this trial, we hope that by placing meat-alternatives within their own dedicated bay in our meat, fish and poultry aisles, our customer’s shopping experience will become even more seamless,” a spokesperson for the chain told the website iNews.

4) McDonald’s Vegan Happy Meal

Fast food companies are busy cleaning up their brands from the stains of gravy and other meaty products. The Big Mac — once one of McDonald’s proudest products — is nowadays a symbol of an unsustainable food system.

Fast food chains are then intensifying their efforts in the plant-based space. To a certain extent, it reminds me of Big Tobacco’s attempt to jump on the vaping bandwagon to contain the impact of dwindling cigarettes sales.

This January, McDonald’s Sweden launched its first vegan happy meal. Branded as “McFalafel”, it features falafels made of chickpea, parsley, garlic, and cumin. 

5) The Impossible Burger 2.0

Impossible Foods took the stage but  California-based company Beyond Meat presented a new version of its plant-based burger too.

The Beyond Burger 2.0 is supposed to have a more fibrous and chewy texture than its predecessor.

In the United States, Beyond Meat rolled the new burger out in partnership with fast-food restaurant chain Carl’s Jr.

7) Homemade Recipes

No, “Homemade Recipes” is not a new VC-propelled, pioneering startup on its way to being acquired for an undisclosed amount by a multinational corporation.

It’s just a reminder of the hundreds of vegan recipes we can try out at home with good ol’ fresh fruits and vegetables.

Companies’ interest in the plant-based field is great and fundamental to turn the food system upside down but let’s not forget about the movement’s less commercial roots.

Veganuary is never ending: to discuss the future of meat we'organizing an unmissable 1-night event in Amsterdam. Check it out here!

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