How to Shop for Vegan Products in UK Supermarkets

Vegans can often be spotted in supermarkets, peering intently at the fine print on a tin of soup or packet of biscuits, a slight frown on their face as they try to work out whether or not it contains animal-derived ingredients.

Checking ingredient lists on products is an inevitable part of choosing to eat vegan. But with a little practice, you’ll soon be soaring through your weekly shop, scanning labels at lightning speed and filling up your trolley with cruelty-free treats like there’s no tomorrow!

Vegan-supermarket-shopping-2We’ve put together a few pointers about finding vegan foods at some of the UK’s top supermarkets. It goes without saying that all these stores sell a huge range of staples, including fruits, veg, rice and grains, pasta sauces, cereals and much more, that vegans can enjoy. Below, we’ve noted some additional highlights.

Ocado | Tesco | Sainsbury’s | The Co-op | Asda | Morrisons | Waitrose | Marks and Spencer | Holland and Barrett | General Tips

Please note that companies sometimes change the recipes and ingredients of their products, so while the information below was correct at the time of publication, please double-check before you buy.

  • Ocado has a useful filter that allows you to search for vegan items only, making it easy to shop without having to check ingredients all the time. The online supermarket also has a great selection of some harder-to-find vegan products, such as luxury chocolates, coconut yogurt, healthy ready meals and innovative faux meats.
  • Tesco has an impressive range of vegan products in its “free-from” line, including dairy-free yogurt and cheese, strawberry and vanilla ice cream cones and crème caramel desserts. The falafel and houmous wrap is super-convenient for grabbing lunch on the go. And if you have a sweet tooth, the chocolate Bourbon Spread is not to be missed.This handy video made by YouTuber Laura Lejeune showcases just how many vegan-friendly products are on offer at the store:
  • Sainsbury’s adds a handy “vegan” label to its own brand products that are suitable for vegans. Among them, you’ll find some yummy treats, such as chocolate buttons and Lazy Day Foods rocky road bars in the “free-from” section, sweet potato and quinoa burgers and veggie mince in the freezer section, and tubs of couscous and pasta in the salad section for when you need something quick to fill you up.
  • The Co-op has also started to label its vegan products clearly (including booze!), meaning you don’t have to trawl through ingredient lists. Its bags of jam and custard doughnuts from the bakery section have long been a cult favourite among vegans, while the falafel wrap or mixed grain salad are good lunch options.
  • Asda stocks some great vegan brands in its bigger branches, such as Violife dairy-free cheese slices and Quorn vegan pieces. It also has some tempting own-brand items, such as fruity soya yogurts, ready meals such as vegetable chow mein and vegetable jalfrezi, and frozen apple strudel.
  • Morrisons has plenty of vegan treats among its house-brand products. Some of our favourites include tubs of gingerbread people in the bakery section, indulgent dark chocolate mint thins, garlic pizza bread and a hearty nut roast in the freezer section. It also stocks Fry’s faux-meat products, such as chicken-style nuggets.
  • Waitrose has some seriously good vegan treats, such as Booja-Booja chocolate truffles, Almond Dream salted caramel ice cream and Taifun marinated tofu. It also sells a range of vegan-friendly ready-made salads such as Roasted Cauliflower and Lentil, vegan sushi, and many hard-to-find cooking ingredients for whipping up your own delicious feasts.
  • Marks and Spencer is a source of superior houmous, handy ready-made salad pots such as Orzo Pasta and Roasted Tomatoes that are perfect for lunch, plus a range of its own plant-based milks and spreads. Usefully, it also labels its vegan wines. And for kids and big kids alike, the veggie Percy Pig and Colin Caterpillar sweets are a must.
  • Holland and Barrett isn’t a supermarket, but it’s a great source of vegan goodies, including chocolate, whole grains, nuts, faux meats, ready meals and any vitamins or supplements you might want.

General Tips

If you want to really do your research and plan ahead, most supermarkets have a comprehensive list of vegan products available to download from their website. And for more tips about vegan products on offer, check out groups such as Vegan (Supermarket finds) UK or blogs such as The Vegan Womble.

“May contain”–type labels can cause confusion. Usually these labels are added for people with severe allergies and simply indicate that the product has been manufactured in an environment where allergens are present, meaning there’s a chance that a minuscule amount could end up in the product. Most vegans are happy to eat products with “may contain milk/egg” labels.

Most non-vegan ingredients are easy to spot. However, there are a few sneaky animal-derived ones that not everyone knows about, such as:

  • Gelatine – made from the boiled skin, tendons and ligaments of animals
  • Albumen – usually made from eggs
  • Casein, lactose and whey – these all come from milk
  • Carmine and shellac – made from ground-up insects (yuk!)

Happy vegan shopping, everyone!

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