Capitalising on the growing interest in vegan and vegetarian lifestyles, a frozen food newcomer has hit the market. Plantry, available in leading supermarkets, offers a range of frozen, plant-based meals which are claimed to be made of “quality ingredients” and featuring “delicious flavours”.
Today I roadtest Plantry’s frozen meals and give her verdict on the nutritional value, taste and convenience.
Were the Plantry meals nutritious?
I’m a big believer that we all need to be eating more plants, regardless of the type of diet we adopt. So when I see a new brand hitting the market that encourages people to increase their plant consumption and meet their need for convenience, I get excited.
Having said that, I’m also dubious as many of these ready-made meals capitalise on the vegan term but don’t deliver on the nutritional value. My hesitation was right when it came to the Plantry range.
This is the perfect example of what’s wrong with the food industry. Plantry have created a range of meals that are on-trend, affordable and convenient. Yet, they are made with cheap and nutritionally poor ingredients, and neglect to celebrate plant foods. Instead of showcasing the extensive variety and flavours of plant foods, Plantry has tried to mimic the texture of meat, packed them full of wheat-based products and flavoured the meals with sodium and sugar.
Convenient, yes, but healthy, no.
There are several downsides of Pantry meals when it comes to nutrition:
- They are relatively high in carbohydrates with the majority from refined sources such as white rice, rice flour or wheat products.
- They rely on soy protein as their protein source rather than the plethora of protein-rich plant foods such as quinoa, lentils, beans and seeds.
- The meals actually don’t contain that many vegetables.Most of the meals are low in fibre, which is ironic given a nutritionally balanced plant-based diet is typically high in fibre.
- The meals are high in sodium with the Pad Thai recording a whopping 440mg per 100mg – more than a Hungry Jack’s Burger! You’re maximising out a large majority of your recommended daily sodium intake on one of these meals.
- The Plantry meals are overly sweet due to the addition of sugar which contributes to the high carbohydrate content.
- They use cheap ingredients such as vegetable oil, natural flavours, emulsifers and thickeners to improve the taste of their meals reduce their nutritional value.
If you’re vegan, vegetarian or simply want to increase your intake of plant foods, I really encourage you to walk straight past the Plantry meals and look for quality, whole food products that are actually going to be supportive to your health.
How convenient is the Plantry range?
You’ll find the Plantry meals in the freezer aisle at leading supermarkets such as Coles and Woolworths.
The meals are designed to be microwaved frozen for approximately 6 minutes. They are a quick and convenient option, but not a nourishing one.
How was the taste of Plantry?
Thanks to the sugar added to most of the Plantry meals, they are very sweet. And by that I mean, sickly sweet which dominates the flavour of the meals. Like many frozen meals, there is nothing vibrant or fresh about the Plantry range.
Some of the meals contain meat-like pieces such as the Butter Curry and the Pad Thai. Made predominately of soy protein, water, vegetable oils and wheat, the texture of these meat replacements is strange. The “chicken” in the Butter Curry tasted more like a bland, sponge product and was so unpleasant, I couldn’t eat it and was left with flavoured rice.
When I think vegan-friendly meals, I think vibrant colours, a range of different vegetables, a variety of textures, a good amount of fibre and lots of fresh flavours. Yes, most of the Plantry meals contain spices and aromatics like ginger, garlic and lemongrass to enhance the taste but overall they are highly processed and their flavours are imbalanced.
When will we learn, that you can make delicious and nourishing meals with whole food ingredients that are vegan-friendly and quick to prepare? Just because it doesn’t contain animal products, doesn’t mean it’s healthy or worth eating.