Plant Kitchen: Is Marks and Spencer's new vegan range really all that?

Thanks to a combination of Veganuary and, well, veganism generally taking over the world at the moment, every other week seems to bring with it the launch of a new vegan product line. Sound great - like the Greggs vegan sausage roll that's been sooooo popular I haven't been able to find one in any of the Greggs I've been in. Some sound like people with a history of vegan-bashing trying not to get left behind the trend that they used to slate (yeah, Gordon Ramsay and the people behind Pure Filth, I'm looking at you.) Some companies, meanwhile, seem to have really put some proper effort into making vegan ranges that make herbivores like us feel spoiled. I'm tipping my hat to you on this one, Marks and Spencer.

From everything I've seen on that there internet, the reviews if Marks and Spencer's Plant Kitchen range have been almost universally impressed across the board. As a fully not-paid-up member of the impoverished student club, Marks and Spencer is not normally where I go to fill up my trolley, but having seen so many folk saying nice things about it, I thought I should go and check it out for myself.

The first thing I tried, and the acid test for any new supermarket vegan range, is the mac and cheese. Behold the Plant Kitchen mac in its all its glory:

The first thing I liked about this was the size - it's a good portion for a hungry vegan. The second thing I liked is that someone's tried to make it a little more interesting that your standard mac: there's some fried mushrooms and some paprika crumb on top to make things a bit more fancy.

But what about the mac itself? The last time I tried a readymade mac, it was a Daiya version and I didn't love it all. It tasted like someone had had a sweaty socks party and added some pasta. Not nice, not nice at all. The Daiya and Plant Kitchen's macs were like night and day: the Marks and Spencer one was creamy, comforting, a gentle cheese taste with some mustard in the back. It walked a happy path between gentle flavour and painfully cheesy, tiptoeing gracefully around both and ending up neither. 

TL;DR: I'd definitely buy it again.

The next time I went past an M and S, there was a yellow-stickered vegan lasagne, so I snapped that up too (I love a yellow sticker, who doesn't?!) I was expecting a vegetable-based lasagne, but instead got one with soya mince. And that's no bad thing - the last supermarket vegan lasagne I tried was a bit wet from the water leeching out of the veggies, this one held up better.

A vegan lasagne shouldn't be that exciting, but the Plant Kitchen was actually really good. Sorry I didn't take a picture - I ate it too quick. It's the sort of food that comforts you against winter, that doesn't trouble your teeth on the way down, and leaves you feeling better about life when you're on the outside of it. Give me with one of these, a couple of slices of bread and (vegan ) butter, and I'll be a happy vegan. 

TL;DR, I would definitely buy that again.

Last up, the excellently named Dirty Fries:

Are dirty fries a thing? I mean, are they are a recognised dish? I'd never heard of them before. They're chips, with tomato sauce, behamel sauce, and cheese on top. I guess they're basically lasagne but with cut up spuds instead of pasta.

I love the idea of getting creative with your chips. I've been a convert to chips with sauce since someone persuaded me of the righteous merits of putting gravy on your chips, and if chip shop curry sauce were vegan, I'd be ordering that every day.

I'm not entirely convinced about lasagne chips though. Chips should be crispy, and these ones, having slept in a bed of tomato sauce, had gone a bit soft. It wasn't something I'd tear someone's hand off to try again, but I like that M&S has gone beyond just offering standard really meals like Thai green curry or bean chill (though they do those too).

Still, I'm totally a convert to Plant Kitchen. It's vegan food that doesn't feel like an afterthought, a will-this-do attempt at plant-based eating. If you see a hungry looking vegan looking for more yellow stickered vegan goodies in your nearest M&S, don't forget to say hi to me - I've got a feeling I'll be spending more time at Marks.


  1. I think I was quite lucky as the dirty fries I tried (both times.....) crisped up nice and proper. I mean, we're super lucky and our local award-winning chippy does vegan curry sauce and gravy so my chip standards are high but these were amazing and I want them to be available forever! Our other favourite so far is the jackfruit pizza, would highly recommend if ever yellow stickered :)

  2. Try looking for frozen chippy curry sauce if you can't find a chippy that does a vegan version. We get these frozen packs from Heron Foods that serve 2 and are great (and 50p).

  3. I've been doing veganuary quietly this year. I have been doing it since it launched and used to make lots of noises about it on my blog, but now the PR bloggers have taken over and Veganuary seems to like RT them these days as well as new celebrity converts to get their message out - fair enough. But I'decided not made a big deal of it on my blog this year. So yes, I too have tried a number of M&S products mostly as a veggie, and its been hit and miss. I am not a fan of soggy fires, so would give that a miss. I really want to try the Jackfruit pizza though. Pleased you approve, it yes its nice its not an afterthought.

  4. Sounds like marks and sparks have come up with the goods here! I am sold on your mac and cheese description - it is just the sort of thing I would be wanted to use as a yardstick too. Fries with stuff is still hit and miss with me so the soggy ones are not great in my book. But kudos for giving some thought to something to wow vegans rather than just expecting them to be pathetically grateful to be fed at all.

  5. Love the extra goodies on the mac n cheese to make it extra special for the vegans. I was just thinking the other day, I haven't had lasagne in awhile, if only there was a ready made version near me. Agreed on the fries, if you're going to the trouble to make it crispy, for crying out loud, don't soak the crispness away in a sauce.


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