Purple Carrot vegan meal kits
Meal delivery comes in all shapes and sizes nowadays, and that includes great meal kits for vegans and vegetarians. You can find tasty plant-based recipes on the menus of most meal kit companies, but Purple Carrot is one of the only completely vegan meal kit services available. That means no meat at all, people, so if you’re the carnivorous type, turn back now, for beyond this point lie mostly lentils, ancient grains, nuts and plenty of healthy veggies.
With many of us looking for ways to eat healthier in the new year — or all year round, for that matter — eating vegetarian cuisine even a few nights a week has become a popular way to do it but for seasoned meat eaters, eating and cooking plant-based food has its challenges. The biggest hurdle I had when introducing more plant-based meals into my diet was finding interesting recipes to make but also learning how to make them well. A vegetarian meal kit can help with both, providing veggie-based recipe ideas along with all the know-how and correct ingredients to execute vegan and vegetarian dinners that taste great without the help of lab-produced imitation meats.
It’s one of the reasons Purple Carrot has become a popular meal kit option in the past few years, but questions about Purple Carrot loom large: Will these plant-based meal kits satisfy a carnivore like me — or is the food better suited for small woodland creatures? I wanted to see how Purple Carrot’s recipes stood up in a real-life taste test so I cooked my way through a week’s worth of its vegan meals to find out. And as a meat eater who also loves vegetarian food, I consider myself quite well qualified to do so, thank you very much.
If you’re interested in trying vegan meal kits either to pack a few more servings of veggies into your weekly diet or give the old industrial animal-farming complex a day or two off per week, read on for my firsthand review of Purple Carrot plant-based meal kits.
How Purple Carrot works
Purple Carrot works like many other meal kit companies, sending all the ingredients and instructions to make vegan recipes at home. Because it’s all vegan, plant-based cuisine, you don’t have to choose from a slate of meal plans. It’s also worth noting that this is a subscription service, meaning meal kits will come every week, but you are free to cancel or pause anytime with no penalty, so don’t be deterred if you want to try it out.
The only big decision you’ll make upon signing up is how many servings per meal and meals per week you’d like to try. If you pick just three recipes per week and two servings per meal, it’s $13.25 per serving. Choose a two-serving meal plan with four recipes per week and the price drops down to $11 per serving. The four-serving plans are $11 per serving whether you choose three or four recipes.
From there, you’ll have eight vegan dinner recipes to pick from each week for the following week’s delivery, which is less choice than most meal kits but considering this is vegan food only, it felt like enough of a selection to me. While those may be the weekly dinner meal minimums, Purple Carrot also allows you to add breakfast and lunch meal kits as well as vegan snacks to your weekly shipments if you choose — more on this later.
Purple Carrot pricing
|Servings per meal||Price per serving||Total per week (3 meals)|
|2||$13.25||$79.50 (6 servings)|
|4||11||$132 (12 servings)|
Unlike some meal kit services, Purple Carrot picks your shipping day based on your proximity to fulfillment centers. Ingredients arrive in cooler bags and are said to keep for as long as 72 hours. That’s longer than most meal kits and likely due to them not containing any meat. Shipping is always free, which helps offset the higher overall price
What are Purple Carrot meals like?
Purple Carrot meals are 100% vegan and healthy, although not necessarily low-carb or low-calorie. Most are centered on whole foods and vegetables with no meat, dairy or animal products of any sort. That might sound like a given, but I’ve noticed that many meal kit companies have incorporated plant-based meat alternatives like Impossible Beef and Beyond Meat into their vegan and vegetarian recipes. Not so with Purple Carrot. You’ll find some tofu-based proteins like tempeh and tofu but not a lot of the newfangled lab-produced imitators.
Expect lots of hearty bowls with grains, nuts and veggies from Purple Carrot, as well as filling lentil soups and rib-sticking stews such as vegan chili or West African peanut stew. There are also generally a couple of delicious-looking vegan pasta dishes on a given week’s menu like lemon zucchini pasta with cashew cream sauce and artichoke hearts. There’s often a plant-based taco recipe or sandwich option as well. While some meal kit companies play it safe with familiar flavors, Purple Carrot takes some big swings with flavorful curries, sauces and spice mixes to add some pop to the vegetarian recipes.
Purple Carrot doesn’t allow swaps or upgrades but there’s not much that you really could swap anyways. I was a little surprised that they don’t allow you to add some of those aforementioned plant-based alternative meats but, alas, it is not their style. The Purple Carrot produce was some of the freshest of any meal kit service I’ve yet tried and portions were substantial.
Meal add-ons: Breakfast, lunch and snacks
In addition to the weekly meal kits, Purple Carrot has breakfast and lunch meal kits as well as snacks you can add to your delivery a la carte. Lunch meal kits are two servings and clock in at $9 per serving while breakfast kits, like tropical coconut pancakes with fresh fruit, are under $5 per serving but come in four-serving portions only. Snacks are priced individually and include sweet and savory munchies such as mushroom jerky, vegan chocolate and peanut butter truffles.
How easy are Purple Carrot meal kits to prepare?
Purple Carrot meal kits are not the easiest to prepare of the services I’ve tried but in fairness, I was cooking some foods I don’t make as often — one of the reasons I was excited to try it — so my kitchen instincts weren’t as keen. Whole grains, for instance, generally take a little more time and attention to cook so expect to hover over a saucepan with some regularity. Having said that, you’ll need no prior experience to make these. Most Purple Carrot meals take about 30 minutes give or take and rarely longer than 45.
What I cooked and how it went
- Green curry lentils with brown rice and vegetables: I had to psych myself up for this one since I like lentils but would be lying if I said they excite me. But it was so, so good. Amazing balance of sweet and heat and I joyfully finished the leftovers for lunch the next day.
- Butternut squash gnocchi: This one was also really tasty if not a little bit heavy. It was easy to prepare and had excellent flavor throughout.
- Peanut and avocado Buddha bowl: This one was good but not terribly exciting. It was the only one I finished eating, considered the price and thought to myself, “was this worth the money?”
Purple Carrot support materials
There is nothing too extraordinarily good or bad about the recipe cards. I found them clear and concise with some helpful footnotes for beginners and helpful cooking tips I may not have considered otherwise. I also appreciated the quick little explainers for any unusual recipes.
Who Purple Carrot meal kits are good for
Obviously, these meal kits are great for vegans or vegetarians or folks trying to incorporate more plant-based cooking into their diet. For me, it was a good way to learn to cook vegan staples and work with some ingredients I’m not as familiar with like lentils, nori and butternut squash.
Who Purple Carrot meal kits are not so good for
Besides the obvious answer, meat eaters, Purple Carrot is also not great for those trying to keep to specific diet plans like keto, paleo, the Mediterranean diet or other. There aren’t tons of weekly choices and, despite being healthy overall, many of them contain a substantial amount of carbs, calories or both. It is also on the expensive side, though not the priciest I’ve tried.
How much do Purple Carrot meal kits cost?
Purple Carrot meals are either $9 to $12 a serving, depending on how many servings per meal you order. A box of three meals per week for two people will cost about $72.
Purple Carrot packaging and environmental friendliness
Purple Carrot is not too much better or worse than other meal kit services when it comes to packaging. The meals were each separated in plastic bags while some companies use paper but Purple Carrot’s cooler bags are recyclable and the ice packs are biodegradable. Get the brand’s full recycling breakdown here.
Changing, skipping or canceling a Purple Carrot order
You can add, change or cancel meals easily through the app or through the website. You can also skip a week’s delivery or cancel anytime prior to the weekly cut off.
The final verdict on Purple Carrot
I enjoyed these meal kits quite a bit and even as a seasoned carnivore, I really didn’t miss the meat. Though I will occasionally substitute meat for Impossible or Beyond “meat” in some of my rotating recipes including bolognese and chili, I didn’t have a ton of prior experience cooking more traditional vegan food and I got a crash course from Purple Carrot.
As a meat eater, I’m not sure I’d want to cook Purple Carrot meals every all week, especially since it’s a bit pricey. But since you can skip weekly shipments anytime you want, I love the idea of having recipes and ingredients for interesting vegan meals showing up semi-regularly. If you want a weekly stream of meal kits but don’t want to commit to eating 100% vegan, try Sunbasket or Blue Apron which have both excellent recipes both with and without meat.