When it comes to switching to a plant based diet, some people are put off by cooking from scratch, as many vegan recipes often seem to need a lot more ingredients, when compared with a meat-based meal.
Furthermore, the ingredients can often be items that are challenging to find, or else not very well known (we now LOVE our vegan jackfruit chilli recipe, but we have to admit that up until earlier this year, many of us had not heard of jackfruit!).
So if you have chosen a vegan lifestyle but cooking is not your thing, then rest assured – there is plenty of choice out there for vegans looking for the ease and convenience that non-vegans have, when it comes to the availability of ready meals.
What is a vegan fast meal? Well, of course there are similar staples to meat eaters in many respects.
Things such as cereal, sandwiches, crackers with toppings, soups, jacket potatoes and energy bars can fill a gap. And vegan versions are easy to come by.
But once a day at least, it is great to get something more hearty inside. Something like a curry, whether it is a Thai curry or Indian curry, is a wonderfully balanced meal, as they usually contain a healthy combination of nutrients.
Easy vegan food swaps include tofu in place of eggs, nut butter instead of butter, and bean burgers over beef burgers.
But if you are looking for real convenience, sometimes you just need a ready meal.
Whether you keep one in the store cupboard or freezer in case of emergencies, or you gobble one at work every day for lunch, once you find a delicious ready meal brand, they can be a very good product to keep on hand.
There is tons of information out there about how to become a vegan, along with the best sources of vegan nutrition.
But essentially, it comes down to this: as a vegan, you have to put a little more thought than meat eaters into where you will get your sources of protein, calcium, iron and omega-3.
Luckily, the vegan ready meals we stock at Holland & Barrett have already done the maths for you, in helping to provide you with a balanced diet.
It is fairly straightforward to find vegan soups, as so many of the regular shop brands already make vegetable and/or lentil soups, two of the mainstays of a vegan diet.
One of the key thing vegans will have to watch out for and avoid on ingredients lists is cream or milk.
But many brands are getting wise to the fact that non-dairy milk alternatives, such as soy milk, can be used in their products instead of cow’s milk, with no detriment to flavour or creaminess.
So there is an ever-expanding variety of soup out there that vegans can enjoy too.
We are a big fan of the brand Auga, whose tasty ready-made soups are all vegan.
Sometimes, though, soup just is not enough to satisfy a rumbling tummy. That is when you need something more substantial, like a curry, to see you through the day.
We love the Loma Linda brand here at Holland and Barrett. Not only are their meals delicious and so so easy to heat up, but they do not need to be kept in the fridge either.
This means they have a longer shelf-life, they do not take up prized room in fridges, and it does not matter if you forget about the packet in the bottom of your work bag – it will still be fine the next day.
One of our favourite flavours is Loma Linda Tikka Masala. They have got the spice blend spot on. Plus they microwave in just two minutes, making them ideal to take to work too.
If you prefer lentil curries, then check out the Eat Water range, which does Slim Rice Yellow Lentil Curry.
The brand’s slim carbs are in fact made out of konjac (also known as glucomannan). It is a natural ingredient that can also help with weight loss.
There is lots of info about it on the Health Hub: Glucomannan: benefits, dosage, side effects.
Another vegan ready meal we cannot get enough of is Loma Linda Thai Green Curry.
It has all those authentic Thai ingredients, such as lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves, so buying ready-made does not mean you have to sacrifice on flavour.
If you like Thai curries and fancy making one from scratch, try our recipe, One Pot Dishes: Red Thai Curry Stir Fry with Freekeh on the Health Hub.