The Top 11 Vegetarian Meal Delivery Services for Home Cooks
Between packed schedules, commute times, and all the other obstacles that keep you from your kitchen, cooking can quickly become a juggling act. Plant-based diets require even more creativity, but having vegetarian meal delivery can take the guesswork out of mealtimes.
Services like Green Chef, Sunbasket, and HelloFresh all provide sustainably sourced ingredients to make tasty dishes that will supplement a vegetarian diet. Using a meal delivery service not only saves time but also allows you to be more selective with what you put in your body. When walking down a grocery aisle, you can't always be sure where your food comes from, but the companies in this roundup rely on sustainable farming practices to get top-quality produce and ingredients. Meal kits also give you the freedom to take control of your kitchen. If you prefer to prepare the food yourself, there are services designed for that, just as there are pre-made meal options that you can simply heat up in the oven or microwave. Meal delivery is a choose-your-own-adventure, so you can create satisfying plant-based meals without all the stress.
The Best Vegetarian Meal Delivery Services for 2021:
- Best Overall: HelloFresh
- Best Gluten-Free: Sprinly
- Best Vegan: Splendid Spoon
- Best Eco-Friendly: Green Chef
- Most Convenient: Blue Apron
- Best Meal Delivery for Omnivore Households: Home Chef
- Best Organic: Sunbasket
- Best Plant-Based: Purple Carrot
- Best Brunch Offerings: Daily Harvest
- Best Pre-Made Meals: Territory Foods
- Best Pre-Packaged Vegetarian Sides: Thrive Market
What Can Vegetarians Eat?
Vegetarian tends to be used as a cover-all word for non-meat, but there are actually four distinct categories of vegetarians, notes Tamar Samuels, MS, RDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist and co-founder of Culina Health. Lacto-Ovo Vegetarians do not eat any meat but will eat dairy products (cheese, milk, yogurt, cream, ice cream, etc.) and eggs. Lacto-Vegetarians do not eat meat or eggs, but will consume dairy products. Ovo-Vegetarians will eat eggs, but not meat and dairy. Vegans do not eat any animal products including meat, dairy, eggs, and sometimes honey. "Flexitarian and plant-based diets are less clearly defined and include mostly plants as the basis of the diet, with the occasional addition of animal-derived foods—usually from ethically sourced/local sources," Samuels says. "Some vegetarians also choose to only eat locally sourced and seasonal foods."
Generally, a vegetarian diet will include foods such as fruits and vegetables, plant-based proteins, whole grains, and heart-healthy fats. "[These] have been shown to be health-supportive and successful at reducing the risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, prediabetes/diabetes, and insulin resistance among other conditions," Alice Figueroa, MPH, RDN, CDN, a New York-based registered dietitian nutritionist, cookbook author, and founder of Alice in Foodieland, says. Some examples of these include:
- Fruits & Vegetables: berries, leafy greens, pineapple, onions, broccoli, asparagus
- Plant-Based Proteins: soy milk, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, tofu, tempeh, seitan, edamame
- Whole Grains: rice (white and brown), millet, amaranth, quinoa, barley, oats, teft, spelt, buckwheat groats, bulgur
- Heart-Healthy Fats: seeds (flax, chia, pumpkin, sunflower, basil, sesame seed), nuts (almonds, pecans, macadamia, Brazil), avocado, olives, olive oil, avocado oil, and coconut (in moderation)
Essentially, you just want to make sure you're getting your daily nutritional requirements from the foods you're eating.
What Are the Best Sources of Protein for a Vegetarian?
The top five plant-based sources of protein are black beans, soybeans, almonds, oatmeal, and hemp seeds, according to Dr. Vikki Petersen, CCN, DC, a certified clinical nutritionist and doctor of chiropractic based in Silicon Valley.
"Daily protein needs vary depending on what kind and how much physical activity you do, your age, gender, and certain medical conditions," adds Samuels, who says that lentils, chickpeas, nuts, seeds, edamame, tofu, tempeh, soy milk, cooked quinoa, nut butter, and legumes are also great sources of protein.
"Most adults should aim to consume about 0.8 grams of protein/kilogram of weight per day," notes Figueroa. "The easiest, most practical way to gauge whether you are getting sufficient protein is to make sure that you include a portion of plant-based proteins at most meals and snacks. You'll want one-fourth of your plate to be made up of protein-rich foods."