Soulara is a convenient delivery brand that is bringing something new to the ready-made meal market.
Firstly, Soulara makes 100% plant-based meals using wholefood ingredients and free of anything refined or artificial. Secondly, they are a subscription model which no doubt aims to keep you ordering, but in doing so it actually streamlines the process and makes it that little more convenient.
Sounds great right? Well, read below to hear what I really think of the Soulara range.
How was the Soulara ordering and delivery process?
As mentioned, Soulara is a subscription service. Instead of having a minimum spend and popping individual meals into your virtual cart, you’re required to sign up and choose from one of their meal plan options before choosing your individual meals.
The plans start at 7 meals per week and go up to 24 meals per week. This not only determines the number of ready-made meals you will receive but also the cost of them. The most expensive option is 7 meals at $11.50 each and the cheapest $8.50 each.
Generally, I am put off by subscription models, however, with Soulara there are no lock-in contracts. You can pause or cancel your membership at any time, so it doesn’t differ that much to other meal providers. In fact, for me, it was easier. I didn’t have to worry about hitting the minimum spending or working out what meals were more affordable than others.
Once ordered, the process is just like any other online meal provider. You’ll have a weekly deadline to order and delivery will depend on your location with a few different days. Soulara meals aren’t actually delivered by the company themselves but a third-party courier. This didn’t make any difference to my experience, in fact, I was pleased that they gave me a text message update and sent a delivery confirmation with a photo of it at my doorstep – a great feature if you’re not home.
Were the Soulara meals nutritious?
Overall the Soulara meals were nutritious. They offer a variety of fresh, wholefood and plant-based meals that are free of processed ingredients. There are no additives, preservatives, flavourings, colours or refined sugars.
I also loved that they weren’t loaded with refined carbohydrates as I find with many vegetarian options that rely on rice, pasta or noodles to “fill” out the meal. Most of the meals I tried were well balanced nutritionally.
Besides being 100% plant-based and free of any animal products, Soulara offers a range of gluten-free options.
They also have a high-protein range which is great as often people adhering to a vegan or vegetarian diet have trouble consuming enough protein without resorting to protein powder.
The main protein source used in the Soulara is soy in the form of tofu and tempeh. They also incorporate other great plant-based sources including quinoa, lentils and hemp seeds. Soy is a nutritious ingredient that can be health-promoting, however, this really depends on the quality of soy used.
The majority of soy made, particularly in the USA, is genetically modified (GMO). There is growing evidence to suggest GMO soy can contribute to inflammation, disrupt hormone balance and increase disease risk. It also has a greater chance of being an allergen. This is far from health-promoting.
Soulara is unable to confirm whether their soy is non-GMO or organic and their labels or website have no mention of it. Using 100% organic tofu or tempeh would be a great addition to their meals, so considering Soulara are not promoting it, I am assuming their soy is genetically modified. This is a big downfall of their product range.
The other negative of Soulara’s meals, in general, is their lack of care and detail when it comes to labelling. On several of the individual meals, Soulara’s labelling either was incorrect or didn’t include enough information.
For example, on the ingredients list of the Peri-Peri Tempeh with Portuguese Rice meal, peri-peri sauce is listed but there is no reference to what that actually consists of. This makes it incredibly challenging for those with allergies or intolerances.
Likewise, the Earthen Seer Curry says it’s served with “fluffy Basmati rice” and yet in the ingredients, Jasmine rice is listed. This changes the nutrient profile of this meal as basmati and jasmine rice are very different glycemic index ratings.
It’s little details like this that make me question the quality of the product and validity of the information provided about the meals.
Finally, another thing that was disappointing about the Soulara brand is that while they talk about reducing our environmental footprint and supporting health with a plant-based diet, they still use plastic for their packaging. Yes, the plastic trays are recyclable and BPA-free, however, there are much more environmentally friendly options on the market. There is also plenty of evidence that BPA-free plastics are as harmful to our health.
For me, it’s the lack of attention to detail that overshadowed the positive aspects of the brand and reinforced that you have to look past the attractive labelling and beautiful imagery.
How did the Soulara meals taste?
The Soulara meals I road-tested tasted okay but weren’t anything special. While most looked appetising, generally speaking, they were bland in flavour. The tempeh was also dry and unappealing, especially as you make your way through the meal.
My criticism on the taste didn’t have anything to do with a lack of animal products, in particular, meat. However, I can imagine people who do tend to consume meat in most of their meals may be left disappointed in the textures and lack of flavour.
Were the Soulara meals good value?
Based on the convenience, portion size, use of whole foods and the variety, the Soulara meals are good value. In fact, I would actually be willing to pay more for the meals if they used organic soy products and changed to plastic-free packaging.
Considering soy features in a large majority of Soulara’s meals, especially the high protein options, I would be reluctant to order from the meal service again.
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